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Philosophy in the Bedroom 

and other writings 

compiled and translated by 
Richard Seaver &Austryn Wainhouse 

with introductions by 
Jean Paulhan of FAcademie Frangaise 
& Maurice Blanchot 

Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and other 





Copyright © 1965 by Richard Seaver and Austryn Wainhouse 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic 
or mechanical means, or the facilitation thereof, including information storage and retrieval 
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quote brief passages in a review. Any members of educational institutions wishing to 
photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or publishers who would like to obtain 
permission to include the work in an anthology, should send their inquiries to 
Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003. 

Grove Press 

an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. 
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Distributed by Publishers Group West 


The essay by Jean Paulhan, "The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice," was originally 
published as a preface to the second edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published in 1946 
by Les Editions du Point du Jour, copyright 1946 by Jean Paulhan. The essay was later 
reprinted, under the title "La Douteuse Justine ou les Revanches de la Vertu," as an 
introduction to the 1959 edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published by Jean-Jacques 
Pauvert. It is here reprinted by permission of the author. The essay "Sade" by Maurice 
Blanchot forms part of that author's volume entitled Lautreamont et Sade, copyright 1949 by 
Les Editions de Minuit, and is here reprinted by permission of the publisher. The editors wish 
to thank Grove Press, Inc. for permission to include certain information in the Chronology in 
the form of both entries and notes, taken from The Marquis de Sade, a Definitive Biography, 
by Gilbert Lely, copyright © 1961 by Elek Books Limited. This work is a one-volume 
abridgment of the two-volume La Vie du Marquis de Sade by the same author, to which the 
editors have referred in their Foreword, wherein further acknowledgments have also been 
made. Finally, the editors wish especially to thank Miss Marilynn Meeker for the meticulous 
job of editing, and for the number and diversity of her suggestions. 


Publisher's Preface 

Part One: Critical & Biographical 
The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice by Jean Paulhan, of l'Academie Francaise 
Sade by Maurice Blanchot 

Seven Letters (1763-1790) 

Note Concerning My Detention (1803) 

Last Will and Testament (1806) 

Part Two: Two Philosophical Dialogues 
Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man (1782) 
Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795) 

Part Three: Two Moral Tales 

Eugenie de Franval (1788) 

Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised (1791) 



My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor fool 
indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others! My manner of thinking stems 
straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am 
made. It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I'd not do so. This manner of thinking 
you find fault with is my sole consolation in life; it alleviates all my sufferings in prison, it 
composes all my pleasures in the world outside, it is dearer to me than life itself. Not my 
manner of thinking but the manner of thinking of others has been the source of my 
unhappiness. The reasoning man who scorns the prejudices of simpletons necessarily 
becomes the enemy of simpletons; he must expect as much, and laugh at the inevitable. A 
traveler journeys along a fine road. It has been strewn with traps. He falls into one. Do you 
say it is the traveler's fault, or that of the scoundrel who lays the traps? If then, as you tell 
me, they are willing to restore my liberty if I am willing to pay for it by the sacrifice of my 
principles or my tastes, we may bid one another an eternal adieu, for rather than part with 
those, I would sacrifice a thousand lives and a thousand liberties, if I had them. These 
principles and these tastes, I am their fanatic adherent; and fanaticism in me is the product 
of the persecutions I have endured from my tyrants. The longer they continue their 
vexations, the deeper they root my principles in my heart, and I openly declare that no one 
need ever talk to me of liberty if it is offered to me only in return for their destruction. 



That the Marquis de Sade also wrote books is a fact now known to almost everyone who 
reads. And knowledge of Sade as a writer ordinarily ends there. For of his immense and 
incomparable literary achievement, and of his capital importance in the history of ideas, 
hardly a suspicion has been conveyed by occasional collections of anodyne fragments culled 
from his writings or by more frequent and flagrantly spurious "adaptations." (Of the two, 
cheap-paperback pastiche and more tastefully contrived anthology of excerpts, the latter, 
equally meretricious, is hardly the less dishonest.) To date, this is Sade bibliography in the 
United States. To date, Sade remains an unknown author. 

For this, censorship, Puritan morality, hypocrisy, and lack of cultivation may be blamed, 
although not very usefully, since Sade sought condemnation. Ultimately, the fault for it is all 
his own, and the fate of his books is his triumph. Strange? To be and to stay an unknown 
author, that has always been his status and his destiny, that was the status he coveted, that 
was the destiny he created for himself, not by accident or unwittingly, but deliberately and 
out of an uncommon perversity. To write, but to go unread— this has happened to many 
writers. To write endlessly and under the most unfavorable conditions and as though nothing 
mattered more than to write, but to write in such a way, at such length, upon such subjects, 
in such a manner and using such language as to render oneself unapproachable, 
"unpublishable," "unknown," and yet upon succeeding generations to exert the most intense 
and enduring influence— this, it will be admitted, is rare indeed. 

Secrets cannot survive their disclosure; to bare Sade to the public would seem to be 
rendering him a disservice. Against this "betrayal"— a graver one by far than any 
accomplished by the obscure tradesmen who from time to time get out a child's version of 
Justine— Sade has a defense: it consists in maintaining the reader at a distance, not merely at 
arm's length but at a remove one is tempted to call absolute. Or, to put it more simply, in 
forcing every reader— every so-called reasonable reader— to reject him. 

Thus, the present attempt— which is the first to be made in the United States— to provide 
the basis for a serious understanding of Sade is in a certain sense bound to fail. In this sense: 
the "reasonable" man (we repeat) can come to no understanding with this exceptional man 
who rejects everything by which and for which the former lives— laws, beliefs, duties, fears, 
God, country, family, fellows— everything and the human condition itself, and proposes 
instead a way of life which is the undoing of common sense and all its works, and which from 
the point of view of common sense resembles nothing so much as death; and which is, of 
course, impossible. Such must be the judgment of the "reasonable" man— of him who builds, 
saves, increases, continues, and thanks to whom the world goes round. 

Even so, however firmly he be established in the normality that makes everyday life 
possible, still more firmly established in him and infinitely more deeply— in the farther 
reaches of his inalienable self, in his instincts, his dreams, his incoercible desires— the 
impossible dwells, a sovereign in hiding. What Sade has to say to us— and what we as normal 
social beings cannot heed or even hear— already exists within us, like a resonance, a forgotten 
truth, or like the divine promise whose fulfillment is finally the most solemn concern of our 
human existence. 

Whether or not it is dangerous to read Sade is a question that easily becomes lost in a 
multitude of others and has never been settled except by those whose arguments are rooted 

in the conviction that reading leads to trouble. So it does; so it must, for reading leads 
nowhere but to questions. If books are to be burned, Sade's certainly must be burned along 
with the rest. But if, ultimately, freedom has any meaning, any meaning profounder than the 
facile utterances that fill our speeches and litter the columns of our periodicals, then, we 
submit, they should not. At any rate, it is not our intention to enter any special plea for Sade. 
Nor to apologize for one of our civilization's treasures. Disinterred or left underground, Sade 
neither gains nor loses. While for us . . . the worst poverty may be said to consist in the 
ignorance of one's riches. 

Great writing needs no justification, no complex exegesis: it is its own defense. Still, the 
special nature of Sade's work, the legend attached to his name, and the unusual length of 
time intervening between the writing and the present publication seemed to call for some 
introduction, both critical and biographical. Thus, Part One of the present volume aims at 
situating Sade in his times and among his familiars. For the brief biography in the form of a 
Chronology, the editors have relied primarily upon, and are indebted to, Maurice Heine's 
outline for a projected Life contained in Volume I of his CEuvres choisies et Pages 
Magistrales du Marquis de Sade. We also owe a particular debt to Gilbert Lely, Heine's close 
friend and heir to the great scholar's papers. The extent of both their contributions to the 
establishment of a valid Sade biography, and to a fuller understanding of both the man and 
his work, is detailed elsewhere. 

Sade's letters are particularly revealing. We have included seven, ranging over an almost 
thirty-year period from the year of his marriage when he was twenty-three to the time of his 
release from the Monarchy's dungeons by the Revolutionary government, when he was over 
fifty. Letter I is from an unpublished manuscript, and is cited in Volume I of Lely's biography; 
Letters II, III, IV, and V are from L'Aigle Mademoiselle. . .; x Letters VI and VII are from Paul 
Bourdin's Correspondance. 

We have included two exploratory essays on Sade. The first, by Jean Paulhan, was written 
in 1946 as the Preface for a second edition of Les Infortunes de la Vertu published that year. 
The second, by Maurice Blanchot, forms part of that author's volume entitled Lautreamont et 
Sade which was published by Les Editions de Minuit in 1949. They form part of a growing 
body of perceptive Sade criticism which has developed over the past two or three decades. 

The "Note Concerning My Detention" was first published in Cahiers personnels (1803- 
1804). Sade's "Last Will and Testament" has only recently been published in its entirety in 
French, 2 and is here offered in English for the first time. 

If, through the material in Part One, we have tried to situate Sade, we have not attempted 
to conceal the singularity of his tastes or in any wise to depict him other than he was. He was 
a voluptuary, a libertine— let it not be forgotten that the latter term derives from the Latin 
liber: "free"— an exceptional man of exceptional penchants, passions, and ideas. But a 
monster? In his famous grande lettre to Madame de Sade, dated February 20, 1781, and 
written while he was a prisoner in the Bastille, Sade declares: 

I am a libertine, but I am neither a criminal nor a murderer [italics Sade's], and 
since I am compelled to set my apology next to my vindication, I shall therefore say 
that it might well be possible that those who condemn me as unjustly as I have been 
might themselves be unable to offset their infamies by good works as clearly 

established as those I can contrast to my errors. I am a libertine, but three families 
residing in your area have for five years lived off my charity, and I have saved them 
from the farthest depths of poverty. I am a libertine, but I have saved a deserter 
from death, a deserter abandoned by his entire regiment and by his colonel. I am a 
libertine, but at Evry, with your whole family looking on, I saved a child— at the risk 
of my life— who was on the verge of being crushed beneath the wheels of a runaway 
horse-drawn cart, by snatching the child from beneath it. I am a libertine, but I have 
never compromised my wife's health. Nor have I been guilty of the other kinds of 
libertinage so often fatal to children's fortunes: have I ruined them by gambling or 
by other expenses that might have deprived them of, or even by one day 
foreshortened, their inheritance? Have I managed my own fortune badly, as long as 
I had a say in the matter? In a word, did I in my youth herald a heart capable of the 
atrocities of which I today stand accused?. . . How therefore do you presume that, 
from so innocent a childhood and youth, I have suddenly arrived at the ultimate of 
premeditated horror? no, you do not believe it. And you who today tyrannize me so 
cruelly, you do not believe it either: your vengeance has beguiled your mind, you 
have proceeded blindly to tyrannize, but your heart knows mine, it judges it more 
fairly, and it knows full well it is innocent. 3 

It was as a libertine that Sade first ran afoul of the authorities. It was society— a society 
Sade termed, not unjustly, as "thoroughly corrupted"— that feared a man so free it 
condemned him for half his adult life, and in so doing made of him a writer. If there is a 
disparity between the life and the writings, the society that immured him is to blame. With 
his usual perception about himself, Sade once noted in a letter to his wife that, had the 
authorities any insight, they would not have locked him up to plot and daydream and make 
philosophical disquisitions as wild and vengeful and absolute as any ever formulated; they 
would have set him free and surrounded him with a harem on whom to feast. But societies do 
not cater to strange tastes; they condemn them. Thus Sade became a writer. 

In presenting Sade the writer, in Parts Two and Three of the present volume, we made a 
number of fundamental decisions at the outset. We first decided to include nothing but 
complete works. Otherwise, in our opinion, the endeavor was pointless. Further, as Sade was 
a writer both of works he acknowledged and works he disclaimed (and who is to say which of 
the two types most fairly represents him?) it seemed essential to offer examples of both 
sorts. Without which, again, the endeavor was pointless— and hypocritical. Finally, in making 
our selections we have obviously chosen works we believe represent him fairly and are 
among his best. 

Part Two consists of two of his philosophical dialogues. The first, Dialogue between a 
Priest and a Dying Man, written in 1782 and until recently thought to be Sade's earliest 
literary effort, was not published until 1926. The present translation is from the original 
edition. The second, Philosophy in the Bedroom, was first published in 1795, not under Sade's 
name, or only by inference: it appeared simply as "by the Author of Justine." It is a major 
work, represents a not unfair example of the clandestine writings, and contains the justly 
famous philosophical-political tract, "Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become 
Republicans," which is as good, as reasonably concise a summation of his viewpoint as we 
have. It is a work of amazing vigor, imbued throughout with Sade's dark— but not bitter- 
humor, and creates a memorable cast of Sadean characters. Although Lely deems it the "least 
cruel" of his clandestine writings, Philosophy will reveal what all the clamor is about. The 

translation is from the 1952 edition published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert. 

Two of Sade's moral tales make up Part Three. Eugenie de Franval, which dates from 1788, 
is generally judged to be one of the two or three best novella-length works which Sade wrote 
and is, in the opinion of many, a minor masterpiece of eighteenth-century French literature. 
The translation is from the 1959 edition of Les Crimes de VAmour published by Jean-Jacques 
Pauvert. Finally, the inclusion of Justine, here presented for the first time in its complete 
form, was mandatory. It is Sade's most famous novel, although there are several more 
infamous. It is the work, too, which bridges the gap between the avowed and the clandestine, 
and is thus of special interest. For if it is true that, consciously or unconsciously, Sade was 
seeking condemnation, with Justine he was seeing to what lengths he could go and remain 
read. The translation is from the 1950 edition published by Le Soleil Noir, which contains a 
preface by Georges Bataille. 

Each of the four works presented is directly preceded by a historical-bibliographical note 
which will, we trust, help situate it. 

It is our hope that this volume will contribute to a better understanding of a man who has 
too long been steeped in shadow. If it does, it will be but slight retribution for the countless 
ignominies to which Sade was subjected during his long, tormented, and incredibly patient 
life, and during the century and a half since his death. 

In his will, Sade ordered that acorns be strewn over his grave, "in order that, the spot 
become green again, and the copse grown back thick over it, the traces of my grave may 
disappear from the face of the earth, as I trust the memory of me shall fade out of the minds 

of men " Of all Sade's prophecies small or splendid, this one, about himself, seems the 

least likely to come true. 


Publisher's Preface 

Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade, better known to history as the Marquis de Sade, has 
rarely, if ever, had a fair hearing. A good portion of his adult life was spent in the prisons and 
dungeons and asylums of the sundry French governments under which he lived— Monarchy, 
Republic, Consulate, and Empire. During his lifetime, or shortly after his death, most of his 
writings were destroyed either by acts of God or by acts of willful malice, not only by Sade's 
enemies but also by his friends and even his family— which was chiefly concerned with 
erasing his dark stain from its honored escutcheon. As recently as World War II, some of 
Sade's personal notebooks and correspondence, which had miraculously been preserved for 
over a century and a quarter, fell into the hands of the pillaging Germans and were lost, 
rendered unintelligible by exposure to the elements, or simply destroyed. Of Sade's creative 
work— excepting his letters and diaries— less than one fourth of what he wrote has come 
down to us. 

"Come down to us" is hardly an apt description, for though this quarter has indeed 
survived, only a small fraction has ever been made public, at least until very recently. The 
aura of infamy about the author's name has been such that even the most innocent- 
meaning "relatively non-scandalous," for in Sade nothing is wholly innocent— of his works 
has often been proscribed by the censors or by acts of self-censorship on the part of scholars 
and publishers. Although he was far from forgotten throughout the nineteenth century— as 
Jean Paulhan notes in his now classic essay on Justine, Sade was read and consulted by many 
of the most significant writers of the preceding century— he was relegated and confined to a 
nether region, to a clandestinity from which, it seemed tacitly to be agreed, he should never 
emerge. If, as many, including the editors of the present volume, tend to believe, this 
scandalous neglect— or neglect due to scandal— was the fate to which Sade truly aspired, then 
the nineteenth century represents the zenith of his triumph, for it was the nadir of his 
influence. Dominated as it was in spirit by the plump, prim figure of Victoria Regina, this age 
would doubtless have echoed the lofty sentiments expressed by Charles Villiers, who issued 
the following exemplary challenge to his compatriots: 

Let all decent and respectable people conspire together to destroy as many copies of 
Justine as they can lay their hands upon. For myself, I am going to purchase the 
three copies which are still at my booksellers and consign them to the fire. May my 
action serve as a general alarm. 1 

As the century waned, however, a few influential voices were raised in dissent, not only 
refusing to share the prevailing opinion but daring to take issue with it. "It is necessary," 
wrote Baudelaire, "to keep coming back to Sade, again and again." Swinburne publicly 
acknowledged his debt to Sade: 

I deplore with all my heart this incurable blindness, this reiterated, philistine 
stubbornness which yet holds you in the chains of the goddess Virtue and prevents 
you from appreciating the true worth of this Great Man to whom I am indebted (and 
what, indeed, do I not owe to him?) for whatever I have inadequately been able to 
express with regard to my sentiments toward God and man. I am compelled to 

believe that God has hardened your heart; I can find no other explanation for your 
indifference to the singular but surprising merits of the Marquis. 

He then went on to prophesy ecstatically: 

The day and the century will come when statues will be erected to him in the walls 
of every city, and when at the base of every statue, sacrifices will be offered up unto 
him. 2 

While that day, and that century, are not yet at hand, our own era has witnessed an 
evolution, if not a revolution, in the attitude of at least the more enlightened, regarding both 
the life and writings of the Marquis de Sade (for both have been condemned, and as the name 
of the author affects one's attitude toward the work, so the work affects and colors the legend 
of the life). 

In 1909, the amazingly eclectic Guillaume Apollinaire, as a result of his research in the 
Enfer of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, published a selection of Sade's work and, in his 
Introduction, proclaimed him to be "the freest spirit that ever lived." In the ensuing half- 
century, an increasing number of voices were raised in Sade's behalf; writers and critics not 
only extolled him vaguely, but were reading him, examining his work as it had never been 
examined before. Among them were Andre Breton, Jean Paulhan, Maurice Blanchot, Pierre 
Klossowski, Simone de Beauvoir, and Maurice Nadeau, all of whom applied themselves 
diligently to discovering the secret of this extraordinary man, the likes of whom the world 
had never seen either before or since. However much these critics may differ as to their 
conclusions, they are all agreed on one fundamental point: Sade is a writer of the first 
importance, and one who must be taken seriously. As Maurice Blanchot aptly notes: It is not 
incredible to think that, in Sade, we have the most absolute writer who has ever lived, and, 
yet, for a century and a half, we have chosen to ignore him? And is not this choice voluntarily 
to ignore him, on the grounds that his work and doctrine are too somber, too anarchistic, too 
blasphemous, too erotic— the charges vary with the censor— both doubtful and dangerous, a 
choice on the side of darkness? 

None of this serious criticism and intellectual speculation would have been possible, 
however, without the work, during the third and fourth decades of this century, of that 
exemplary Sade scholar, Maurice Heine. For fifteen years, with painstaking care, he sifted 
through the mountain of manuscripts entombed in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris and in 
a dozen other libraries and museums throughout France, constantly revealing new material 
that had been believed lost, meticulously comparing various manuscripts and published 
versions and thus restoring to their pristine state works that had been truncated or 
emasculated. Thanks to him, during the ten-year span from 1926 to 1935, the following works 
of Sade were published: 

Historiettes, Contes et fabliaux, in 1926; 

Dialogue entre un pretre et un moribond, also in 1926; 

Les Infortunes de la Vertu, being the original draft of Justine, in 1930; 

Les 120 Journees de Sodome, ou VEcole du Libertinage, the "lost manuscript of the Bastille" 
miraculously recovered and finally published, in three volumes, from 1931 to 1935. 

Since Heine's death in 1940, 3 his work has been carried on with equal devotion and 
unflagging enthusiasm by Gilbert Lely, who had first met the elder scholar in 1933, and from 
almost the moment of that first encounter took up the torch which he still bears today. 4 
Lely's definitive, two-volume biography, La Vie du Marquis de Sade, was published by 
Librairie Gallimard in 1952 and 1957, and offers a more complete and detailed view of Sade 
than has ever before been available. Moreover, Lely's research led him to discover, in the 
Conde-en-Brie chateau of Count Xavier de Sade, an unhoped-for collection of previously 
unknown Sade material, including more than a hundred and fifty letters— most of which are 
addressed to the Marquis' wife— which the author wrote between 1777 and 1786, while he was 
a prisoner in Vincennes and the Bastille. To date, Lely has published ninety-one of these 
letters, in three different volumes; 5 they form a remarkable record of Sade's existence during 
this crucial and yet so productive period of his life and, together with the earlier 
correspondence, offer a formidable record of, and cast new light upon, this much maligned 
and misunderstood man. 

To this constantly increasing store of newly discovered material has been added new 
editions, based on sound documentation, of Sade's major writings. In France, over the past 
fifteen years, a courageous young publisher, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, has systematically 
brought out the complete works of Sade, in twenty-seven volumes, prefaced by the most 
cogent of contemporary essays. More recently, in Scandinavia, integral editions of the major 
Sade writings have begun to appear, and in tiny Denmark a project similar to Pauvert's 
pioneering effort is underway. 

In English, however, there is still precious little material available, and, as the editors have 
indicated, even that, at best, is in the form of largely innocuous fragments carefully culled so 
as not to offend; at worst, and this is a more recent development, totally spurious editions of 
Sade have appeared— what the editors have referred to as the "cheap-paperback pastiche"— 
baldly proclaiming to be complete. One can only lament that these gross misrepresentations 
may yet accomplish what all the censors and calumniators have thus far failed to do over the 
past two hundred years: these shoddy, and indeed execrable rehashes of his work may yet 
bury Sade. 

We boast that we have shrugged off the hypocritic coils of Victorianism, that the last 
bastions of censorship are on the verge of falling, and yet Sade still remains locked in the 
library keeps of the world. "I address myself only to those persons capable of hearing me," 
Sade once remarked. To date we have never allowed his works to seek that audience of hardy 
"capables," preferring to judge and sentence them without a public hearing. Thus today we 
only know him by the words he contributed to the language: sadism, sadistic, sadist. But to 
know him and judge him by these epithets alone is to ignore what Sade is and means. He is, 
for example, much more than that shunned and restricted pillar of pornography on which his 
reputation rests, for it has been adequately demonstrated that nothing dates more quickly 
than real obscenity, in whatever sphere, and Sade has steadfastly refused to date or die. To 
endure, a writer cannot rely or base his work upon that dubious foundation, and those writers 
over the span of the past century who have been attacked as too coarse or too candid for 
public consumption and who have survived— Baudelaire, Flaubert, Zola among the late 
nineteenth-century French notables; Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller more recently 
and in our own language— have survived precisely because of other qualities. So is it with 

What is strange, and worth investigating, is how, given the neglect, the quasi-total 

condemnation of his writings— how has Sade survived? What is there in his work that has 
caused it so to endure? Its eroticism? To be sure. Its shock qualities, based on a philosophy of 
negation which, as the editors note, no "reasonable man can understand, much less accept? 
No doubt. Its imaginative power, which is of such scope and magnitude as to create an entire 
universe, a self-contained world not of human comedy but of human (and super-human) 
tragedy, surreal rather than real, a writhing, insensate universe at the pole opposite 
Gethsemane and Golgotha? Yes, that too. And yet, to date, we have preferred to immure the 
man and ignore his writings, fearing his absolute vision. 

To profit from that extraordinary vision, however, we do not have to subscribe to it. But if 
we ignore it, we do so at our own risk. For to ignore Sade is to choose not to know part of 
ourselves, that inviolable part which lurks within each of us and which, eluding the light of 
reason, can, we have learned in this century, establish absolute evil as a rule of conduct and 
threaten to destroy the world. 

Now, twenty years after the end of the world's worst holocaust, after the burial of that 
master of applied evil, Adolph Hitler, we believe there is added reason to disinter Sade. For 
though his works speak for themselves and need no apology, they will also serve to remind 
us, in an age which legislates billions to construct bigger and better doomsday machines, 
bombs that can wipe out entire populations and missiles to deliver them with incredible 
swiftness and unerring aim, of the absolute evil of which man is capable. Surely, if we can 
accept to live with the daily specter of the absolute bomb, we can accept as well to live with 
the works of this possessed and exceptional man, who may be able to teach us a trifle more 
about ourselves. 


Critical & Biographical 

The Marquis de Sade and His Accomplice 

by Jean Paulhan, of l'Academie Franchise 


Over the past few years we have come to understand what has made for the greatest best 
seller of all time, the success of the New Testament. It is because this book has its secret. On 
every page, in every line, this book implies something never flatly stated, but which intrigues 
and involves us all the more on that account. And since in this piece we shall not have 
anything further to say about the Gospel, nothing need prevent us from disclosing its secret. 

It is that Jesus Christ is light of heart. As shown us by the New Testament, he is solemn 
and rather pensive, irritated sometimes, at other times in tears, and always very serious. But 
we detect something else, something the New Testament does not tell us: that Jesus is not 
against an occasional joke. That he is full of humor. That he now and again talks without 
rhyme or reason, just to see what will happen (when he addresses the fig trees, for instance) 
In short, that he enjoys himself. 

I would not like to hurt anyone's feelings by comparing the Gospel of Good with the most 
ingenious, and also the most extensive, of all Gospels of Evil which a clear-minded and 
eminently sane rebel once composed. But I still must say it: if Justine deserved to be favorite 
reading— at least during a certain period of their lives— with Lamartine, Baudelaire, and 
Swinburne, with Barbey d'Aurevilly and Lautreamont, with Nietzsche, Dostoevski, and Kafka 
(or, on a slightly different plane, with Ewerz, Sacher-Masoch, and Mirbeau) it is because this 
strange although apparently simple book, which the writers of the nineteenth century— 
hardly ever designating it by name— spent their time plagiarizing, utilizing, applying, refuting, 
this book which posed a question so grave that to answer it and to fall short of answering it 
completely was as much as an entire century could achieve, this book contains its secret too. I 
shall come back to it. But first let's settle the question of immorality. 


Is there anything to be added to what has already been said about the advantage and need 
of punishment for the wrongdoer? There are a thousand opinions on the subject, and a 
hundred thousand treatises have been written; and yet it seems to me that the crux of the 
matter has been neglected, possibly because it is too obvious, because it goes without saying. 
Well, saying it will make it better still. 

The first point is only too evident: that criminals are a menace, that they imperil society 
and are a threat to the human race itself, from whose standpoint, for example, it would be 
better if there were no murderers. If the law left each of us at liberty to kill his neighbors (as 
often we would like to do) and his parents (which the psychoanalysts claim is what we 
basically desire), there would not be many people left alive on earth. Only friends would be 
left. Not even friends would be left, for finally— though this is a detail we usually forget to 
consider— our friends are themselves the fathers, sons, or neighbors of somebody. I move on 
to the second point, which is equally obvious once one gives it a little thought. 

This second point is that criminals are in general curious people, more curious than law- 
abiding people: I mean unusual, giving more food for thought. And though it may happen 
that they utter nothing but banalities, they are more surprising to listen to— owing precisely 
to this contrast between the dangerous content within and the inoffensive appearance 
without. Of all this the authors of detective stories are very aware: no sooner do we begin to 
suspect the honest country lawyer or the worthy pharmacist of having once upon a time 
poisoned a whole family, than the slightest thing he says warrants our most avid attention, 
and he needs but predict a change in the weather for us to sense he is meditating some new 
crime. Moralists declare that it suffices to have brought an end, even through negligence, to a 
single human life in order to feel oneself utterly changed. And moralists are imprudent in 
saying so, for all of us desire to feel such a change in ourselves. It's a wish as old as the world; 
it's more or less the story of the Tree of Good and Evil. And if discretion ordinarily restrains 
us from changing ourselves to this extent, we nevertheless have the keen desire to frequent 
those who have undergone the experience, to befriend them, to espouse their remorse (and 
the Knowledge that comes thereof). The only point to remember here is the conviction I 
referred to earlier that an assassin is not someone to encourage; and that through admiring 
him we participate in some vast plot against man and society. And here is where even those 
among us who are not overly scrupulous find themselves all of a sudden betwixt and 
between, torn by conflicting feelings, deprived alike of the advantages of a good conscience 
and of a bad. Here is where punishment intervenes. 

Shortcomings and merits of criminals 

I may safely assert that it straightens out everything. As of the moment the thief is robbed 
in his turn— if not always of his money, at least of some years of his life, which are worth 
money and a good deal more besides— and the assassin assassinated, we may without 
hesitation associate with them, and for example, while they are still alive, bring them oranges 
in prison; we may become fond of them, enamored of them, we can even feast upon their 
words: they are paying, they have paid. This we know; it was yet better known by the kings 
and queens and saints who in olden days used to accompany criminals up to the scaffold, and 
who would even, like Saint Catherine, catch a few drops of their blood to save. (And who 
today is not stirred by gratitude toward the handful of men who teach us, as they pay the 
extreme penalty, the danger and the very meaning, which had become lost to us, of treason? 1 ) 

Advantages of punishment 

This is what I have been driving at: for one hundred and fifty years it has been the custom 
to frequent Sade through the intermediary of other authors. We do not read Les Crimes de 
VAmour, instead we read L'Auberge de Yange gardien; nor do we read Philosophy in the 
Bedroom but Beyond Good and Evil; nor Les Infortunes de la Vertu, but The Castle or The 
Trial; nor Juliette, but Weird Women; nor La Nouvelle Justine, but Le Jardin des supplices; 
nor Le Portefeuille d'un homme de lettres (which has, moreover, been lost) but Les Memoires 
d'outre-tombe. And in such timidity one can find little else than the effect of the scruples I 
mentioned earlier. Yes, it is true that Sade was a dangerous man: sensual, violent-tempered, a 
knave upon occasion, and (in his dreams if not elsewhere) atrociously cruel. For not only 
does he invite us to slay our neighbors and our parents, he would have us kill our own wives. 
He would go even further: he would with pleasure see the whole of mankind done away with, 

to make room for some new invention of Nature. He was not particularly sociable; nor social 
either. He cared about liberties. He had liberties on the brain. But these are scruples we can 
set at rest. 

For Sade paid, and paid dearly. He spent thirty years of his life in various bastilles, 
fortresses, or keeps of the Monarchy, then of the Republic, of the Terror, of the Consulate 
and of the Empire. "The freest spirit," said Apollinaire, "that has ever lived." The most 
imprisoned body, at any rate. It has sometimes been maintained that to all his novels there is 
a single key, and that it is cruelty (and that, I would maintain, is to take a simple view of 
them). But far more surely, to all his adventures and to all his books there is a single end, and 
that is prison. There is even a mystery in so many arrests and internments. 

Let us see how well the crime corresponds to the punishment. It seems established that 
Sade gave a spanking to a whore in Paris: does that fit with a year in jail? Some aphrodisiac 
sweets to some girls in Marseilles: does that justify ten years in the Bastille? He seduces his 
sister-in-law: does that justify a month in the Conciergerie? He causes no end of bother to his 
powerful, his redoubtable in-laws, the President and the Presidente de Montreuil: does that 
justify two years in a fortress? He enables several moderates to escape (we are in the midst of 
the Terror): does that justify a year in Madelonnettes? It is acknowledged that he published 
some obscene books, that he attacked Bonaparte's entourage; and it is not impossible that he 
feigned madness. Does that justify fourteen years in Charenton, three in Bicetre, and one in 
Sainte-Pelagie? Would it not strongly appear as if, for a whole string of French governments, 
any and every excuse sufficed for clapping him behind bars? and, who knows, as if Sade did 
about all he could to get himself imprisoned? Perhaps; one thing however is certain: we know 
that Sade ran his risks; that he accepted them— that he multiplied them. We also know that in 
reading him we are possibly running risks of our own. Here am I, free to think what thoughts 
I will about that descendant of the chaste Laure de Noves, 2 to wonder what there may have 
been that was good in him, and at any rate delightful; to muse upon that extreme distinction, 
upon those blue eyes into which, when he was a child, ladies liked to look; upon that faint 
hint of effeminacy about his figure, upon those sparkling teeth; 3 upon those wartime 
triumphs; upon that violent bent for pleasure; upon those repartees, impetuous but subtle 
and perhaps tinged with something of cockiness and vainglory; upon the young Provencal 
nobleman whose vassals come to do him homage, and who is accompanied wherever he goes 
by the too faithful love, the love-in-spite-of-everything of that tall and somewhat equine and 
rather boisterous Renee— his wife— at bottom a good and gentle woman. 

Sade paid, and paid more than his share 


I shall leave aside the special efficacity Duclos had in mind when he spoke of "those books 
you read with only one hand." Not that it isn't interesting, and to a certain extent sensational: 
more than one very serious and even abstruse writer has dreamed that his writings might 
exert a similar influence, generate similar repercussions (on other levels, of course). But 
touching all this there is not much to be said, since such results are usually unpredictable. 
Then, too, it is usually agreed that veiled language and allusion (or if you prefer, teasing and 
smuttiness) are more apt to produce them than forthright and unadorned obscenity. Now, 
veiled language and allusion are rare in Sade, and smuttiness nonexistent. Indeed, that may 

be what is held against him. Nothing is further from him than that kind of smug smile, of 
malicious innuendo which Brantome displays in his tales of thoroughbred distractions, which 
Voltaire or Diderot show in their spicy passages, and that mincing deviousness which 
Crebillon, in his stories of alcoves and sofas, brings to discouraging perfection. There is in 
literature a freemasonry of pleasure, whose winks and nods and half-spoken enticements and 
ellipses are known to all its members. But Sade breaks with these conventions. He is as 
unhampered by the laws and rules of the erotic novel as was ever an Edgar Allan Poe by those 
of the detective story, a Victor Hugo by those of the serialized novel. He is unceasingly direct, 
explicit— tragic too. If at all costs he had to be classified, it would be among those authors 
who, as Montaigne once said, castrate you. Surely not among those who titillate you. And 
there is another sort of device he spurns. 

It is the one we must term the literary device. Many a famous work owes its value— and in 
any case its renown— to the incorporation of an intricate system of literary allusions. Voltaire 
in his tragedies, Delille in his poems evoke in every line, and take credit in evoking, Racine or 
Corneille, or Virgil, or Homer. To cite only the nearest rival of Sade (and, as it were, his 
competitor in the domain of Evil) it is fairly obvious that Laclos is steeped to saturation in a 
literature— whereof, moreover, he makes the cleverest, the most intelligent use. Les Liaisons 
dangereuses is the joust of courtly love (for everything consists in finding out whether 
Valmont will succeed in meriting Madame de Merteuil), waged by Racinian heroines (neither 
Phaedra nor Andromache is lacking) within the lists of the facile society painted by Crebillon, 
by Nerciat, by Vivant-Denon (for everything proceeds straight and briskly to the bedchamber 
—everything at least is envisaged with this denouement in view). Such is the key to its 
mystery: discreetly wrapped up inside Les Liaisons is a little course on the history of 
literature for grownups. For the most mysterious authors are generally the most literary, and 
the strangeness in their writings is owing precisely to the disparate elements they contain, to 
this yoking together of characters come from the remotest milieux— and works— who are 
quite astonished to encounter one another. Laclos, moreover, was never able to reproduce his 
prodigious feat again. 

Neither a pornographer nor a litterateur 

But Sade, with his glaciers and his gulfs and his terrifying castles, with the unremitting 
onslaught he delivers against God— and against man himself— with his drumming insistence 
and his repetitions and his dreadful platitudes, with his stubborn pursuit of a sensational but 
exhaustively rationalized action, with this constantly maintained presence of all the parts of 
the body (not a one of them but somehow serves), of all the mind's ideas (Sade had read as 
widely as Marx), with this singular disdain for literary artifices but with this unfaltering 
demand for the truth, with this look of a man forever animated and entranced by one of those 
undefinable dreams that sometimes take rise in the instinct, with these tremendous 
squanderings of energy and these expenditures of life which evoke redoubtable primitive 
festivals— or great modern wars, festivals of another sort perhaps— with these vast raidings of 
the world or, better still, this looting he is the first to perpetrate on man, Sade has no need of 
analyses or of alternatives, of images or of dramatic turns of events, of elegance or of 
amplifications. He neither distinguishes nor separates. He repeats himself over again. His 
books remind one of the sacred books of the great religions. From them emanates, for brief 
instants caught in some maxim— 

One of those dreams whose source is in 

Dangerous moments there are when the physical self is fired by the mind's 

There is no better way to familiarize oneself with death than through the medium of 
a libertine idea. 

They declaim against the passions without bothering to think that it is from their 
flame philosophy lights its torch 

—(and what maxims they are!) that mighty and obsessing murmur which sometimes arises 
from literature, and is perhaps its justification: Amiel, 4 Montaigne, the Kalevala, the 
Ramayana. If it be objected that these I include among sacred books have never had their 
religion nor their faithful, I shall begin my reply by saying that it is a very good thing and that 
we should be glad (thereby being in a freer position to judge the books on their own merits 
instead of by their effects). Upon further thought, I shall add that I am not so sure after all, 
and that the religion in question was by its very nature condemned to clandestinity— but able, 
from hiding, to address an appeal to us now and then: three lines out of Baudelaire: 

Who hide a whip under their trailing robes 

And mingle, in the dismal wood and lonely night, 

The foam of pleasure with the flow of tears. 

Joseph de Maistre's remark: "Woe unto the nation that were to ban torture"; 5 Swinburne's 
phrase "the martyred Marquis"; Lautreamont's "Cruelty's delights! They are delights that 
endure"; Pushkin's observation upon "the joy we are hurled into by whatever heralds death." 
As for Chateaubriand— I am wary of the somewhat murky pleasure that Chateaubriand, 
among others, derives from the death of women who once loved him, of regimes he fought 
for, of the religion he believes the true one. And there are reasons, though they are not easily 
elucidated reasons, why Sade has so often been designated as the Divine Marquis. Whether 
or not he actually was a marquis is open to question; but there is no question that a certain 
number of persons, and apparently respectable persons, held him to be divine— or properly 
diabolical, which is something akin. 

Sade divine if not a marquis 

Still, on this score a doubt does assail me. I wonder, when today I behold so many writers 
struggling so hard and so consciously to avoid literary artifice in their treatment of an 
indescribable event of whose erotic and at the same time frightful character we are given 
every assurance, mindful in all circumstances to misconstrue Creation, and busy looking for 
the sublime in the infamous, the great in the subversive, demanding furthermore that every 
work commit and compromise its author forever in keeping with a kind of efficacity (which is 
not without its resemblance to the wholly physiological and local efficacity I referred to 
earlier), I wonder if one is not compelled to recognize, in a terror so extreme, less an 
invention than a remembrance, less an ideal than a nostalgia, and in short if our 

contemporary literature, in that area where it seems to us most alive— most aggressive, in any 
case— is not oriented entirely toward the past and, to be precise, dominated, determined by 
Sade as eighteenth-century tragedy was by Racine. 
But my aim was only to talk about Justine. 


Well, Justine possesses every virtue, and for each of them she finds herself punished. 
Compassionate Justine is robbed by a beggar. Pious, she is raped by a monk. Honest, she is 
fleeced by a usurer. She refuses to become the accomplice in a larceny, a poisoning, an armed 
assault (for ill luck and poverty cast her into strange company), and it is she, the clumsy one, 
who is charged with theft, with brigandage, with murder. And so it goes with her throughout. 
And yet, against villainies of every description the only weapons Justine knows how to use 
are a pure heart and a sensitive soul. They prove inadequate: to whomever abuses her she 
brings good fortune, and the monsters who torment her become a minister, surgeon to His 
Majesty, a millionaire. Here's a novel which bears every resemblance to those edifying works 
in which vice is seen punished every time, and virtue rewarded. Except that in Justine it's the 
other way around; but this novel's failing, strictly from the viewpoint of the novel (which is 
our viewpoint), remains the same: the reader always knows how things are going to end. Now 
Justine's ending fails even of the triteness which finally made an unduly virtuous conclusion 
one of the conventions of the novel, a convention hardly less tried and true than a novel's 
division into chapters or episodes. Sade, from all evidence, takes his unhappy denouements 
extremely seriously, and shows himself taken unaware by them every time. And the strangest 
thing of all is that they take us unaware too. 

The riddle of the Gothic novel 

This surprise ending poses a singular problem. Singular, for Sade will have none of the 
facilities that were commonly being employed at about the same period by his rivals, the 
Gothic novelists. Amazing the reader is too easy when, like Mrs. Radcliffe or Matthew Lewis, 
you enlist the help of phantoms, supernatural events, infernal machineries, all inherently 
startling. However, it is with man alone Sade wishes to deal; and, he specifies, with natural 
man such as he had been painted by, for example, Richardson or Fielding. 6 Therefore no 
ogres or wizards, no angels or demons— above all no gods!— but rather the human faculty 
which forges these gods, angels, or demons, rather the vices or virtues which, when they lead 
us into startling situations, set this faculty to work. The riddle thus posed has two or three 
words, the first of them being a very plain and everyday one: modesty. 

It is a curious thing that the eighteenth century, to which we owe the most cynical 
descriptions of manners in our literature, also gave us two great portraitists of modesty: one 
of them, as everybody knows, was Marivaux. The other, and it is beyond me why everybody 
persists in not knowing it, was Sade. It is curious, or rather it is not curious at all. So much 
fear and trembling in the face of love and so much defiance of fear, so many self-respects to 
preserve and so many withdrawals into the self, and this refusal to use one's eyes and ears 
which reveals and at the same time protects everything that was finally to go under the title 
of marivaudage— for Marivaux shares with Sade the dubious distinction of having left his 
name to a certain form of amorous behavior: and I am not sure, indeed, that the attribution is 
any more correct or better understood in the case of Sade than in that of Marivaux; that 

shyness and that dread of being hurt are only explicable, only understandable if there are 
chances of being hurt and if, in sum, love is a perilous affair. Marivaux' heroines are modest 
to such a degree one would think they had read Justine. While Justine herself . . . 

Sade, painter of modesty 

Whatever befalls her, Justine is unprepared for it. Experience teaches her nothing. Her 
soul remains ignorant, her body more ignorant still. One cannot even allow her an occasional 
flutter of the eyelashes, a hint of a smile. Never will she take the first step. Even when in love, 
it does not occur to her to kiss Bressac. "Although my imagination," she says, "may 
sometimes have strayed to these pleasures, I believed them to be chaste as the God who 
inspired them, given by Nature to serve as consolation to humans, engendered of love and of 
sensibility; very far was I from believing that man, after the example of beasts . . ." Each time 
she is amazed when upon her are performed operations whose meaning she scarcely 
suspects, and whose interest she fails totally to comprehend. She is the image of the most 
heart-rending virtue— and, alas, of virtue most heartlessly rent. "Modesty," they used to say in 

those days, "is a quality you put on with pins " But as worn by Justine, the pins go through 

into her flesh and bring forth blood when her dress is removed. Shall it be said that it 
requires considerable good grace on the part of the reader to let himself be surprised and hurt 
along with her? No; for that reader is free to interpret as moral and sentimental anguishes all 
the very physical anguishes displayed before him. In its movement Justine is kin to those 
fairy tales where we are told Cinderella is shod in glass slippers— and we understand 
immediately (unless we are a little dull) that Cinderella walks with infinite caution. And then 
too we live on the verge of the strange. What, when you come down to it, is more strange 
than at the end of one's arms to have these queer prehensile organs, reddish and wrinkled, 
one's hands, and little transparent gems at the divergent extremities of these hands? 
Sometimes we catch ourselves in the act of eating, wholly absorbed in grinding fragments of 
dead animals between the other gems that stud our mouth. So it is with the rest; and among 
all the things we do there is perhaps not a single one which will brook prolonged attention. 
However, there exists a domain wherein strangeness enters neither by chance nor 
exceptionally, but where it is constant and the rule. 

For, when all is said and done, we are not greatly bewildered by eating: we have (vaguely) 
the impression that our present meal is the sequel to a thousand past meals, which it strongly 
resembles and which serve as its guarantee. Whereas each time we fall in love again, it seems 
to us— so incomparable and so indescribable is every feature of our beloved— that we have 
never loved before. Poets speak of cool fountains, of bowers of bliss, of hyacinths and roses; 
they speak in vain, for they evoke hardly more than a faint reflection of the greatest surprise 
life reserves for us. 

Love and pleasure are unpredictable 

On another plane, the same surprise stamps the expressions and proverbs used when in 
common speech the secret organs are referred to as "little brother," "little man," "little 
friend," "the little creature that lives under a bush and lives on seed." What in the world can 
they have done to us, these organs, that we are thus unable to talk about them simply? Ah, 
they do at least this: they refuse to be treated with familiarity. In such sort that the prose 
writer, regarding them, can only record surprise and bewilderment? 

Yes, doubtless. Or else he may each time vary and renew the reasons for this surprise, so 
that it is ever fresh for the reader and never, instead of suggesting the wonderful to him, 
imposes bewilderment upon him. Thus does Sade proceed, in his own manner. For what 
finally do such a multitude of approaches to pleasure and so many different and curious ways 
of making love signify if not that the ways of love and pleasure perpetually amaze us, are 
perpetually unpredictable? Justine, I have said, reads— or should be read— like a fairy tale. We 
may add that it is a tale solely concerned with that particular feature of love, paradoxical and 
in itself nigh unto incredible, which drives lovers, as Lucretia put it, to ravage the bodies of 
those they love. 

However, there is one final word to the riddle. 


Sade did not wait until he reached prison before beginning to read. He devoured the 
favorite books of his age. He knew the Encyclopedia by heart. For Voltaire and Rousseau his 
feelings were a mixture of sympathy and aversion. The aversion was on grounds of logic: Sade 
considered those two thinkers incoherent. Inconsequent, that was the word for it then. But 
he accepted their exactingness, their principles— and their prejudices. Of which this is the 

The eighteenth century had just made a discovery, and was not a little proud of it, that a 
mystery is not an explanation. No, and that a myth isn't an explanation either. On the 
contrary, it was noticed that no sooner is a myth forged than, in order to stand, it needs 
another myth to support it. The Indians hold that it is upon the back of a tortoise that the 
world is carried. So be it; but upon whose back is the tortoise borne? It is God that created the 
world. All right; but who created God? To be sure, this discovery (if it deserves the name of 
one) had been made earlier; but the Encyclopedists now excel in giving it this popular and, at 
the same time, fashionable form. Henceforth, all talk of God will be for memory's sake; and it 
will be of a God against whom Voltaire— and later Sade— range man alone, man (they go on to 
say) who is nothing other than man. Man (Voltaire adds) who is not noble. Natural man, man 
minus the Fable. 

Sade, disciple of the Encyclopedia 

This was to reject straight off all the current charm— all the perennial facilities— of 
literature. This was also to lay oneself open to a new difficulty. For, you know, this lonely 
man did after all have to go and invent God, and the spirits, and the satyrs, and the Minotaur. 
Now you'll not be very far advanced toward acquaintance with him until you have managed— 
by consulting nothing outside the bounds of human nature— to account for not just our real 
societies and the passions that agitate them, but also for those vast fantastic societies which 
accompany them like their shadow. Such is the weight with which, all of a sudden, the death 
of God falls upon Letters. Voltaire is human, I know. He even belongs among the better 
specimens of common everyday man. However, there is no getting away from the fact that 
there have been wars and great religions, migrations and Empires, the Inquisition and human 
sacrifice— and that, in fine, men have not very often resembled Voltaire. 

"Never mind," replies the Encyclopedia. "We are not presumptuous. We shall have the 
necessary patience. We already have man for a start: he is right here, we have him before our 
eyes. We are companions in exile (if it be a question of exile). We have but to observe man 

objectively, to submit him to our investigations. Sooner or later he'll come clean. Should he 
contrive to hide (for he is crafty) some one or other of his penchants from us, our 
grandchildren will get at them. Time is on our side. For the present, let us compile our notes 
and assemble our collections." 

Sade belongs to his age. He too begins with analyzing and patient collecting. That gigantic 
catalogue of perversions, The 120 Days of Sodom, was for a long time taken to be the summit 
and conclusion of his work. Not at all; it is the foundation of his work, and the breaking of 
ground for it. Such a beginning would have won approval from the Encyclopedia. Indeed, for 
rigorousness Sade outdoes any of the Encyclopedists, who (thought he) all fall more or less 
rapidly into dishonesty: some, like Rousseau, because they are weak-natured and prone to 
tears, forever being embarrassed by things as they are, always ready to shrink from the sight, 
from the touch, from the sound of man such as their senses perceive him to be, and to chase 
instead after some sort of kindly savage (whose existence the history of peoples denies a 
thousand times over). Others, like Voltaire, because of their hardheadedness and 
unemotional character, being quite incapable of believing in the truth of passions they 
themselves do not experience. Or still others, like Diderot, brilliant but frivolous, skipping 
from one idea to the next. Voltaire's version of man may explain how humankind came to 
invent the spade; Jean-Jacques', the hayloft; Diderot's, conversation. But ogres and 
inquisitions and wars? "Eh," replies Voltaire, "those poor people were mad. We shall correct 
all that." "That is exactly what I call cheating," rejoins Sade; "we set out to understand man, 
and before we have even begun you are already trying to change him." 

Where Voltaire and Jean-Jacques cheat 

This rigor— I am much tempted to say, this heroism— might, it cannot be denied, have 
played Sade false and led him astray (as it did, at about the same period, that hot-blooded 
little fool and very able writer, Restif de la Bretonne). Such was not the case. Reiterating 
them through ten volumes and supporting them with a thousand examples, a Krafft-Ebing 
was to consecrate the categories and distinctions the Divine Marquis traced. Later, a Freud 
was to adopt Sade's very method and principle. There has not, I think, been any other 
example, in our Letters, of a few novels providing the basis, fifty years after their publication, 
for a whole science of man. It must surely be agreed that, before he was deprived of his 
liberty, Sade must have been an even keener observer than he was a tireless reader. Or else 
that a certain fire in him caused him to feel— and also enabled him to intuit— the broadest 
range of passions. And to me it seems strange that this has not earned him more gratitude. 
That said, it is all too obvious that scientific rigor, in such matters, entails its danger: it 
usually leads to awarding overmuch and too exclusive importance, in the study of the 
passions, to the physical aspect of love (as, in social economy, it leads to overemphasis upon 
individual interest). For the existence of the soul, even the existence of the mind, may be 
easily denied; but not copulation. 

Another facility; and Sade refuses it no less severely. That which is common to most erotic 
books, and which is absent from his, is, as we have noted, a certain superior tone (and it 
could just as well be called an inferior tone), a certain air of sufficiency (or insufficiency, if 
you prefer to call it that). More precisely, a certain stiltedness, an aloofness of style, a certain 
abrupt divergence of style from content. For literature halts, and so almost does language, 
before an event (which is sometimes called animal, or bestial) wherewith the mind seems to 
have nothing to do; and which one therefore confines oneself to ascertaining and recording, 

either— like Boccaccio or Crebillon— with an amused satisfaction, or with a few reservations, 
like Margaret of Navarre or Godart d'Aucourt. But this divorce they establish, this distance 
they preserve is unacceptable to Sade. "Man is all of a piece," says he, "and lucid. There is 
nothing he does but he does it as a reasoning being." Whence it is his heroes accept 
themselves for what they are, constantly, down to their last aberrations, and keep themselves 
under their mind's survey. "We buggers," one of them declares (but all the others speak in 
the same vein), "pride ourselves upon our frankness and upon exactitude in our principles." 
Speeches and reflections are what set them in action. 

Man undertakes nothing that is not subject to 
the scrutiny of his reason 

Therein resides their weakness. For reflections and speeches could then also appease 
them. No argument, however wise, does not accept in advance to bow before a rebuttal if in 
the latter it recognizes wisdom superior to its own. Thus does the Leonore of Aline et Valcour 
more than once elude rape by means of the excellent pretexts she invents on the spur of the 
moment. Justine herself is again and again invited to refute her persecutors. There is never 
any deviation from the rule: "No transports," she is told. "Give me arguments. I'll cede to 
them if they are good." Now, Justine has a head on her shoulders. The problem presented to 
her is so honestly presented— so detailed, so explicit— that we expect her to find the solution 
to it at any moment. One word and the riddle would be solved. Justine, or the new Oedipus. 


Most of these riddles have provided no end of diversion since Sade's time. The danger is 
that we today tend to consider them separately whereas Sade poses them simultaneously and 
in combined form; the danger is also that, detached from one another, they are too familiar to 
us, and the answer to them— or the difficulty of answering them— too evident. But let's have a 
close look at the texts. 

"First of all," says Sade, "the exact details. Who are you, and what are you after in this 
world? Only too often I behold you asleep, inert, or just barely alive, coming and going like 
some organic statue. This statue— is it you? No, you would have yourself a conscious being, as 
conscious as possible, and rational. You seek happiness, which increases consciousness 
tenfold. What happiness? Ordinarily it is located in pleasure and in love. All well and good. 
But one thing: avoid confusing the two. To love and to taste pleasure are essentially different; 
proof thereof is that one loves every day without tasting pleasure, and that one still more 
frequently tastes pleasure without loving. Now, while an indisputable pleasure goes with the 
gratification of the senses, love, you will admit, is accompanied by nuisances and troubles of 
every sort. 'But moral pleasures,' do you say? Indeed. Do you know of a single one that 
originates anywhere but in the imagination? Only grant me that freedom is this imagination's 
sole sustenance; and the joys it dispenses to you are keen to the extent the imagination is 
unhampered by reins or laws. What? Fix some a priori rule upon the imagination? Why, is it 
not imprudent merely to speak of rules? Leave the imagination free to follow its own bent. 

The unique and its property 

"Pleasure, that was what we were discussing. Here we still have to distinguish the pleasure 

you sense from that which you think you bestow. Now, from Nature we obtain abundant 
information about ourselves, and precious little about others. About the woman you clasp in 
your arms, can you say with certainty that she does not feign pleasure? About the woman you 
mistreat, are you quite sure that from abuse she does not derive some obscure and lascivious 
satisfaction? Let us confine ourselves to simple evidence: through thoughtfulness, 
gentleness, concern for the feelings of others we saddle our own pleasure with restrictions, 
and make this sacrifice to obtain a doubtful result. Rather, is it not normal for a man to prefer 
what he feels to what he does not feel? And have we ever felt a single impulse from Nature 
bidding us to give others a preference over ourselves?" 
"Still in all," Justine replies, "the moral imperative . . ." 

"Ah, morals," Sade goes on, "a word or two about morals, if you like. Are you then unaware 
that murder was honored in China, rape in New Zealand, theft in Sparta? That man you watch 
being drawn and quartered in the market place, what has he done? He ventured to acquit 
himself in Paris of some Japanese virtue. That other whom we have left to rot in a dank 
dungeon, what was his crime? He read Confucius. No, Justine, the vice and virtue they shout 
about are words which, when you scan them for their meaning, never yield anything but local 
ideas. At best, and if you consider them rightly, they tell you in which country you should 
have been born. Moral science is simply geography misconstrued." 

"But we who were born in France," says Justine. 

A slaves' morality 

"I was coming to that. It is indeed true that, from earliest childhood, we hear nothing but 
lectures on charity and goodness. These virtues, as you know, were invented by Christians. 
Do you know why? The answer is, that being themselves slaves, powerless and destitute, for 
their pleasures— for their very survival— they could look nowhere but to their masters' 
bounty. Their whole interest lay in persuading those masters to behave charitably. To that 
end they employed all their parables, their legends, their sayings, all their seductive wiles. 
Those masters, great fools that they were, let themselves be taken in. So much the worse for 
them. But we philosophers, with more experience behind us, we shall, by pursuing pleasure 
in the manner we wish and pursuing it with all our might, do exactly what your beloved 
slaves practiced, Justine, and not what they preached." 

"And remorse?" Justine timidly asks. "What shall you do about remorse?" 

"Haven't you already noticed? The only deeds man is given to repent are those he is not 
accustomed to performing. Get into the habit, and there's an end to qualms and regrets; 
whereas one crime may perhaps leave us uneasy, ten, twenty crimes do not." 

"I have never tried." 

"Why not try it and find out? Furthermore, it is vouched for by the innumerable examples 
offered to us day in, day out by those thieves and brigands who, most appropriately, are called 
hardened criminals. The further one sinks into stupidity, the better disposed one becomes for 
faith; similarly, oft-repeated crime renders one callous. There you have the very best proof 
that virtue is but a superficial principle in man." 

"However," Justine insinuates, "had there formerly been some agreement entered into by 
men, some understanding binding man to man, which our honor or our well-being might 
enjoin us to uphold—" 

"Ah, ha," says Sade, "you raise there the entire question of the social contract." 

"Perhaps I do." 

"And I fear you misunderstand it. But let us see. You claim that in the earliest stage of 
their societies men concluded a pact along these lines: 'I shall do you no ill so long as you do 
me none.'" 

"It could have been a tacit arrangement," Justine remarks. "Anyhow, I fail to see how, 
without some such thing, any society could be founded or last one day." 

"All right. A pact, and one which must constantly receive fresh adherents, one which must 
be reindorsed by each of us." 

"Why not?" 

"I would simply draw your attention to one thing, that a pact of this kind presupposes the 
equality of the contracting parties. I renounced doing you harm; which means I was free to 
harm you up until then. I renounce harming you now; this means I have been free to harm 
you up until now." 


The social contract 

"Imagine however that you are delivered utterly into my power the way a slave is into his 
master's, the way a man condemned to die is handed over to his executioner. How could it 
possibly occur to me to strike a bargain with you whereby you acquire illusory rights through 
my foregoing real rights? If you are unable to hurt me, why in the world should I fear you and 
deprive myself for your sake? But let us go still further. You will grant me that everybody 
draws his pleasure from the exercise of his particular faculties and attributes: like the athlete 
from wrestling, and the generous man from his benevolent actions; thus also the violent man 
from his very violence. If you are completely in my power, it is from oppressing you that I am 
going to reap my greatest joys." 

"Is it possible?" wonders Justine. "Is it human?" 

"That man be human is not something I'd stake my life on. However, observe this also: as 
the mighty man takes pleasure from the exercise of his strength, so does the gentle or the 
weak man profit from his compassion. He too has a good time. It is his own way of having a 
good time; and that is his business. Why the devil must I further reward him for the 
enjoyment he gives himself?" 

"Thus you see," says Justine, "that there are a thousand varieties of weakness and 

"I don't doubt that. Civilization has changed the aspect of Nature; civilization nonetheless 
respects her laws. The rich of today are just as ferocious in their exploitation of the poor as 
the violent used to be in their vexation of the helpless. All these financiers, all these 
important personages you see would bleed the entire population dry if they fancied its blood 
might yield a few grains of gold." 

"It is indeed dreadful," Justine admits, "and I must own I have seen some examples of it." 


That religion, conventional morality, society itself are among those malignant inventions 
which enable certain individuals, they being none other than the most powerful individuals, 
to victimize the lower classes— this is a proposition contradicted by no eighteenth-century 
writer concerned with ideas. The wise, the modest Vauvenargues himself appeals in the name 
of Nature. Voltaire simply finds religion to blame for the state of affairs, Rousseau blames 

society, Diderot the going morality. And Sade blames them all at the same time. Aye, the laws 
are harsh, their enforcement is implacable, the authorities are despotic. (We are rushing, says 
Sade— and Sade is the only one saying it— toward Revolution. 7 ) Very well. What is left for him 
to do who has grasped this truth, and who is nevertheless powerless to put a speedy end to so 
many oppressions? 

If nothing else he can at least free himself of them, inwardly defeat their influence upon 
him. Grimm, Diderot, Rousseau, Mademoiselle de Lespinasse or Madame d'Epinay cleave, as 
regards morality, to a single tenet which they sometimes proclaim openly, sometimes 
conceal: that one must in every case discover and then heed the heart's first and most 
spontaneous prompting; by dint of patience and of weeding out obstructions, restore the 
primitive man in oneself; and in oneself restore— they add— natural goodness. 

Of the various Savages of Tahiti, Bougainville's Voyages, Histoire des Sevarambes, 
Supplements to the Voyages and Supplements to the Supplements, which toward 1760 were 
the fare of sensitive souls, modern sociology has left nothing intact. Nothing except the yarns. 
It could have been expected. 

Primitive mentality 

For I see very well that Tahitian savages know nothing of our laws and of our moral codes. 
But what if they know others, no less severe or, who can tell, crueler still? Shall we go a little 
further? I can see very well that they do not have our coaches or our cannons. And if this 
were deliberate? What if they had known our civilization, and then given it up (as you are 
tempted to do)? It is said, after all, that the Chinese invented gunpowder long ago, and the 
Romans the elevator. The Tahitians you behold are perhaps the last vestiges of a glorious and 
prosperous society, which had its palaces and its pomp— and then came to know the vanity of 
riches and of display. Regarding languages, Meillet points out that there is no particular one 
about which we can say with certainty that it is closer to its origins than others. Likewise, not 
a single people exists that we can with complete honesty call primitive. 

"Why," Jean-Jacques replies, "as for this primitive man, it's enough for me to experience 
him in myself. And I know he is good." 

"I'm not so sure of it," says Sade. 

About the pleasures of cruelty 

Everybody has complained, and rightly enough, that there are too many tortures in 
Justine— and in La Nouvelle Justine a hundred times too many. Too many strappadoes and 
needles, gibbets and pulleys, whips and irons. All the same, let's not be hypocrites. Our 
European literature includes another work, a greatly esteemed one, which contains (together 
with illustrations) more tortures by far than all of Sade's writings, and in its tortures more 
refinements, and in its refinements more ingenuity: not thirty or forty, but one hundred 
thousand women bundled in dry straw and then slowly burned alive (after having first been 
gagged, to reduce the level of their screaming); and other women spread-eagled on nail- 
studded beds, and raped in front of their impaled husbands; and princes and princesses 
grilled over live coals; and peasant women in chains (those sweet, lamblike creatures, says 
the author) lashed and clubbed while dying of systematic starvation. At the end of which it 
isn't by the dozen (as in La Nouvelle Justine) the victims are counted, but by the million. 
Twenty million, according to the author. He is a respectable author, and reliable historians 

(such as Gomara and Fray Luis Bertram) are there to confirm his allegations to within a 
round million; for this we are referring to is no novel but a piece of pure and simple 
reportage: the Brief Relation of the Destruction of the Indies of Father Bartolome de Las 
Casas, whom no one is likely to accuse of designing to flatter our wicked instincts. Nor were 
the Spanish soldiers who set out for the New World selected for their cruelty. Who were 
they? Sightseers, ordinary adventurers, like you and me. What happened? Why, native 
populations were turned over to them. 

That man is able to derive the liveliest pleasure from cutting man (and woman) to pieces, 
and first— and perhaps especially— from the idea of cutting them to pieces, this is a fact, an 
obvious fact which we customarily hide from ourselves out of I don't know what sort of 
cowardice. I do not know because, so far as I can see, there is nothing in all this that could for 
one minute conflict with Christian belief— nor moreover with Moslem or Taoist— which 
maintains that man once upon a time parted ways with God. And as for the unbeliever, by 
what right could he refuse to observe that man with unbiased eyes? 

Yet refuse he does once he is in a hurry to build, to slap together, a natural philosophy— 
the nineteenth century's term for it will be "a lay ethic"— untrammeled by laws and by 
authority, untrammeled by God. And as of now integrity is of slight importance to him. Well! 
how precious Sade thus becomes to us in his refusal of lies, in his refusal to seek short cuts, 
in his refusal to cheat! His refusal is a little too vehement? Ah, Sade is not a patient man. And 
do you suppose he is not exasperated by the others, with their ecstasies before Nature, their 
weepings over waterfalls, their quiverings upon the soft greensward? To so much sottishness 
an antidote was needed. 

"A queer antidote," Justine murmurs. "So pray tell me: what life shall be mine to lead?" 
"An absurd life," answers Sade. "But let's have a look at it." 

The absurd world 

The scene is usually laid in some awesome and almost inaccessible castle. Or in some 
monastery lost in the depths of a forest. Justine is there, a captive, and locked in the tower 
with her are three girls, the sober Omphale, the addle-brained Florette, Cornelie the 
inconsolable, all slaves of the perverse monks. Are they alone? No, everything would indicate 
that within the walls of the cloister there are other towers, other women. Sometimes this or 
that slave vanishes. What becomes of her? Everything leads to the suspicion that in leaving 
the monastery she takes leave of life. For what reason is she taken away? It is impossible to 
know. Her age has no bearing upon it: "I have seen a seventy-year-old woman here," 
Omphale tells Justine, "and during the time they retained her in service I saw more than a 
dozen girls dismissed who were under sixteen." Nor is her behavior a factor. "I have seen 
some who flew to do their every desire, and who were gone within six weeks; others, sullen 
and temperamental, whom they kept a good many years." Well-clothed girls, well-fed. If they 
but knew where they stood, and what conduct . . . but no. "Here, ignorance of the law is no 
excuse. You are forewarned of nothing, and you are punished for everything. . . . Yesterday, 
though you made no mistakes, you were given the whip. You shall soon receive it again for 
having committed some. Above all, don't ever get the idea that you are innocent." (Thus are 
the themes of the castle and of the trial interwoven throughout Justine.) "The essential 
thing," Omphale goes on to say, "is never to refuse anything ... to be ready for everything, 
and even so, though this be the best course to follow, it does not much insure your safety. . . 

." 8 

What remedies for so many ills? There is but one. The miserable can take consolation in 
the fact they are surrounded by others who are equally miserable, tormented by the same 
enigmas, victims of the same absurdity. 

But it would be naive to suppose that in this adventure Sade's sole concern is the fate of 
four little lambs. 


In 1791 Sade was to have his hour, and his months, of triumph. 

For the Revolution, which recognized in him one of its Fathers, made him a free and 
honored man. At the Theatre Moliere his Le Comte Oxtiern is being played; in the streets the 
people hum a Cantata to the Divine Marat whose author is the Divine Marquis. The 
brilliance of his conversation, the breadth of his learning, the force of his hatred, everything 
about Sade spells a shining and safe career ahead. With his new friends he differs upon not 
more than one or two points: for example, like Marat, he favors a communist State, 9 but he 
would also like to retain a Prince to oversee the application of the new laws. Graver however 
is this: these new laws are to be mild and moderate. Capital punishment is ruled out of them. 
Though the heat of his passions may sometimes justify an individual's crime, nothing can 
excuse crime's presence in the legal codes "which are by their very definition rational and of a 
dispassionate nature. But here we have one of those delicate distinctions which escape a great 
many people, who are manifestly unable either to think clearly or to count. You put a man to 
the gallows, my good friends, for having killed another man: and lo! that makes two men the 
less instead of one." 10 

Thus, and not without insolence, speaks Citizen-Secretary Brutus Sade before a meeting of 
the Section of Piques. How does he sound? how does he look? He stands not so straight as he 
used to, after his years in the tyrant's dungeons; and he has put on weight, too. But ever the 
grand style, and the gracious air, the same warmth of personality. A hint of obsequiousness. 
An engaging smile. 

The President of Piques 

He smiles, as all disappointed people do. He is disappointed. To be free, to be in the midst 
of life again, that's not everything. Troubles, problems are beginning to beset him from all 
sides. There's his notary, that insect Gaufridy, demanding money; his sons, behaving as 
though their father did not exist; his castles in Provence, threatened with demolition, and 
being pillaged in the meantime. Right here in the Section he sees himself closely watched by 
his fellow citizens. They expected something else from the ferocious Sade. Something else 
than this level-headedness, these cantatas, this politeness (at a time when the enemy besets 
us from without while from within the fifth column saps our finances and seeks to starve us 
into submission). Secretary— and even, a little later, President— of Piques: very nice, but one 
must still earn one's living. He files a request for a head librarian's post. No reply. The 
theaters turn down his new plays which, it would appear, are lacking in civism. "So they want 
civism, do they? I'll give them all they can swallow," Sade mutters, seated behind his 
President's desk. It's at that point that a little old gentleman sneaks into his office on tiptoe, 
somebody with an aristocratic past who'd like, thinks the Secretary, to become one of the 
boys; who sits down off in a corner. Who positively looks, thinks the Secretary, as if he were 

pissing in his pants. Who sits there fiddling stupidly with his cane; who plainly deserves 
nothing better than to be purged, with his face of a weasel. Why, good heavens, if it isn't the 
President de Montreuil! The Enemy, the Persecutor to whom Sade is indebted for some 
thirteen years in jail. 

Well, Sade simply goes over and shakes hands with him. And cheers him up a bit. No need 
to worry, they'll admit him into the Section. And, you know, it's not all fun and frolic at the 
Section. Poor Montreuil puts on a big grin all the same. Three days later an officer in the 
Army of the Somme, one Major Ramand, is brought before Sade. "You have aided emigres to 
escape?" Sade demands. "I have." "That means death, you realize." "I realize it," says the good 
Major. "Bah," says Sade. "Here's three hundred livres and some identity papers. Off with 
you." 11 Another three days later, Ramand is safe somewhere in the countryside and Sade is 
behind bars in Les Madelonnettes. If he misses being executed it's by a hairsbreadth and 
because Robespierre is sent to the guillotine. Sade is released from prison; but he'll be back 
there shortly. This time it is for having printed a pamphlet against Josephine. Why a 
pamphlet, why against Josephine? Probably for the same reason he treated Montreuil as a 
friend and released the Major. 

Wherein Sade returns to prison 

The simplest explanation is the first one that comes to mind. In prison Sade had become a 
writer. To be sure, he'd already scribbled a little, prior to then, here and there. Indeed, he'd 
shown himself able to wield a pretty pen, as they say; in the Troubadour manner (of course; 
for he is Provencal). But in prison writing had been accompanied by a sort of revelation. 

It is impossible to measure, even to glimpse, the whole extent of an achievement of which 
a bare fourth has survived the effects of persecution; the rest having been burned, pulped, 
lost. Rather, if you wish to obtain an idea of the fury— of the rage— with which Sade proceeds, 
consider how for Les Infortunes de la Vertu he works out a meticulous outline, then writes 
the novel a first time, then writes it again, then writes it yet again, each time expanding upon 
each detail, correcting the least phrase or, better still, reinventing it; and the second version is 
twice the length of the first; the third— fifteen hundred pages long— three times the length of 
the second. With Sade, writing is worse than a vice or a drug. It has simultaneously to do with 
passion and with duty. Now, directly he is set at large, everything conspires against 
continuing— politics, children, business. How is one to keep afloat while writing? Parasite, 
pimp, blackmailer— as we know only too well, for him who has the need to write, it's write by 
hook or by crook. And the unlucky individual who has acquired— for the sake of his 
independence, says he— some "second trade" (but what then was his first?) has hardly— 
journalist, civil servant, insurance salesman— any other resource: he has himself put down as 
sick. For his part, Sade puts himself down as guilty. They're jailing rebels this year? He's a 
rebel. The indulgent are in trouble? "I am free to let off fools if I so please." Plotters? Why 
not be a plotter? The impious and the libertine? There's a category I fit into perfectly. When 
all else fails, there's always madness. You could read, nothing stood in the way of your 
writing— and your fury at being held captive didn't hurt— in the madhouses and prisons of the 
eighteenth century, fairly mild places, furthermore, for a nobleman up on nobody knew 
exactly what count. "What's that one in here for?" Sade's jailers used to wonder. "Seems like 
they got him for conspiracy against God." "Ever heard the like of it?" 

Yes, the argument is plausible. But shall we look a little farther? Sometimes a man will 
pursue fame, love, independence with such fervor that he overshoots the mark, with such 

passion that his passion will sometimes come to scorn what at first it sought, to deride the 
meager products of such efforts. The glory you strove so hard after, was it this tattle in the 
press, these silly interviews, this being elected to Academies, and this popular tune whose 
author nobody knows? Liberty, was it this (scanty) applause from the front rows; these 
defiant approbations; these votes which tomorrow will swing against you? No, in order to be 
satisfied with a pittance, pride is not enough, you need vanity of the most stupid sort. Vanity, 
and also a fondness for being shortchanged, a desire to be cuckolded. At this point the driving 
forces within a man undergo a mysterious change in direction; and the victor senses he has 
been vanquished by his victory; and the lover flees his mistress, and for the spirit that lusted 
after riches, poverty is now the mark of well-being. Our hero delights in and at the same time 
is exasperated by the silence his extravagant pretensions create around him; the lover of 
liberty turns around and goes back to prison. Totally disgusted. 

Causes of a disappointment 

Yes, the explanation is plausible. However, I cannot say that it greatly pleases me. Let us 
return to our ill-starred lambs. 


Sadism did not used to be much talked about. Nowadays it is, in the newspapers and in 
serious books. The change is for the better. For this is an entirely natural and immediate trait 
in man, a trait he has possessed since the very beginning and which, when you come down to 
it, may be summed up in a few words: we demand to be happy; we also demand that others be 
rather less happy than we. That this trait may, under the pressure of circumstances, 
degenerate into frightful manias— this is a matter upon which psychiatrists are qualified to 
speak, not I. Whether Sade was a sadist or not I don't know: the trial records shed little light 
upon the question. In the case we are best acquainted with— the Marseilles affair— Sade 
figures as a masochist, which is the very opposite. I see that at least once he flatly refused to 
be sadistic in spite of all sorts of encouragement: his past grievances, his feelings of the 
moment, and the chorus of the Section of Piques. But it could be argued that the true sadist is 
the one who declines to practice sadism on easy terms, who will not stand to be told when 
and where to give expression to his idiosyncrasy. Each of us is proud in his own way. 

Over the last fifty years or so we have got into the habit of talking about masochism 
(which is what I have just done) as we do about sadism. With the same naturalness, in the 
same matter-of-fact way. As if it were a human characteristic no less simple, no less 
necessary than sadism; and no less susceptible of becoming a mania either. I have no 
objection to that. But if it is a natural characteristic, you'll admit it is a very queer one; queer 
almost to the point of being incredible; and that to call it natural requires considerable 
forbearance on our part. 

Masochism is incomprehensible 

If I take the eye, for example, I note that it is subject to a wide range of anomalies. It can 
be farsighted, or myopic. It can present yet rarer and (like sadism) yet more distinguished 
defects: amaurosis or diplopia. It is sometimes able to put its faultiness to profit: it can be 
nyctalopic, and content to be so. (Just as a sadist turns his sadism to advantage; after all, a 

well-ordered society can hardly do without public executioners; at any rate, without judges 
and nurses and surgeons.) So far so good. But never, never has there been found an eye that 
was afflicted by buzzings, hyperacusia or colored audition. Well, that, all else being equal, is 
what some claim in behalf of masochism. 

When pain experienced by others gives me pleasure, this pleasure I feel is obviously an 
unusual feeling; and doubtless a reprehensible one. In any case it is a clear and 
comprehensible feeling, and an article upon it can be included in the Encyclopedia. But that 
my own pain be pleasure to me, that my humiliation be to me a dignification— this is no 
longer reprehensible or unusual, it is simply obscure, and it is only too easy for me to reply 
that if it is pain, it isn't pleasure, if it's dignification, then it's not humiliation. If it's . . . And 
so on and so forth. Yet, however that may be, there does indeed exist, nobody will deny it, 
something which can be rightly termed masochism. To be more precise, there do indeed exist 
men, and women also, whom we must call masochists. 

For there are some who seek nothing so eagerly as mockery and ridicule, and who thrive 
better on shame than on bread and wine: Philip of Neri, who used to caper in the streets and 
shave only one side of his face, preferred to pass for a madman than for a saint; the sheik Abu 
Yazid al Bisthami would give urchins a couple of walnuts in exchange for a slap. There is no 
lack of persons who to their friends— and to those foremost among all their friends, 
themselves— fondly wish "suffering, abandon, infirmity, ill-treatment and dishonor and 
profound self-contempt and the martyrdom of self-distrust." 12 And others too who say with 
the Portuguese nun: "Increase the number of my afflictions." To anyone contending that 
behind whatever it may appear to be this amounts to a clever attempt to assure oneself of the 
weal which follows after woe, and the honor which follows dishonor, and the triumph of 
esteem which follows after the ordeal of disdain, in keeping with some natural law of 
compensation, the reply would have to be that he had not very well grasped the question. But 
let me continue. 

Masochism is a universal trait 

We see other persons who steer a steady course toward vexations and abuse, who, no 
matter where they happen to be, are extraordinarily alert and, through the workings of some 
unerring instinct, as if sensitized to the presence of a possible source of mistreatment and as 
if fascinated in advance, attracted, summoned by the cruel potentialities they have somehow 
detected in a man everybody else sees as a decent and unexceptional chap. (Thus Justine. . .) 
Or else, of their own accord, with peculiar willfulness march straight to where prison, trials, 
and death await them. (Thus Sade. . .) 

Let there be no mistake: I do not pretend to be clearing up the mystery, I do not in the 
least claim to be explaining a difficult fact, a truly mysterious fact, which defies analysis now 
and has never yielded to it in the past. No. Instructed by experience, my inclination would 
instead be to acknowledge that in masochism we are dealing with something veritable but 
incomprehensible; with, to put it more vaguely, an occurrence— a. frequent occurrence, 
perhaps, but at any rate an obscure one, and one which remains impenetrable to my 
intelligence. (After all, why these people are the way they are is more than I can fathom.) In 
short, I concede to mystery its share in all this— and, doing so, I am at once rewarded for my 
modesty. I venture no comments about proud spirits who seek silence or greedy spirits who 
seek poverty (for I must own that the explanation I offered a little while ago was, while banal, 
rather farfetched: that the proud spirit, the greedy or the libertarian spirit, having been 

acquainted beforehand with the signs of glory, wealth, liberty, were in a poor position to 
complain afterward). 

The riddles find their solution 

For if it happens that man sometimes experiences that which is not altogether human, and 
to which no familiar habits or everyday usages apply— but natural man is not other than 
civilized man, nor I other than other human beings, nor kindliness other than perfidy, nor 
pain other than pleasure— sadism, in the final analysis, is probably nothing else than the 
approach to and, as it were the (perhaps maladroit and certainly odious) testing of a truth so 
difficult and so mysterious that once it is acknowledged as such, the problems we have been 
helpless to resolve— and the very riddles Sade puts to Justine— become instantly and 
miraculously transparent. It is as though it were enough for me, in order to be able to see 
clearly (to see my way clearly through questions and a world both mightily confused and 
absurd), to have once and for all taken obscurity into account. 

Here it will be said to me, and very justly said, that the truth we are seeking is too 
inaccessible, and is as foreign to our language as to our understanding. So indeed it is, and it 
should be plain that, rather than express it, I am simply endeavoring, once having set aside a 
space for it to occupy, to encircle it, to surround it. Though he fails to formulate it in thought 
or speech, the man who has suffered it one time and a thousand times, who has experienced 
it, still retains the resource of living it, of being it. And I finally understand in what sense 
Sade, like Pascal, Nietzsche, or Rimbaud, paid; in what sense also he was able to merit the 
title of divine as it was conferred upon him by a popular idiom which sometimes is of greater 
justness than the judgments of critics, sometimes rings truer than the lines of poets. 

There is another resource, however. 


In a curious book by Crebillon, The Letters of the Marquise de M., tender affection and 
jealousy, the need for love and ensuing regrets, desire and coquetry are rendered with great 
subtlety, with such subtlety that at no stage in the story does the reader ever know for sure 
whether or not the Marquise and the Count have been to bed together. But in Justine it's 
quite the reverse. And Justine's amorous adventures— very diverse, very involuntary— are 
shown us in the greatest detail without our ever having an inkling of what it might be our 
heroine is feeling— desire, love, loathing, indifference. Truly, it is difficult to say. And Sade 
knows it only too well. He knows it only too well because Justine is Sade himself. 

That is Justine's secret. A strange secret. A hard secret to get at, but not because it is 
nameless or unnamable. Hard to get at because, on the contrary, it already has its name 
because it has, if anything, been identified a little too often, under the name of that good 
Austrian novelist who came into the world a hundred years after Sade, and who gave his cruel 
heroines a riding crop to wield and sometimes a mink coat to wear. Well I know that Nature 
encompasses every taste, every mania. This particular one is no more harmful or more 
unpleasant than any other. Nor is it any less. But for mysteriousness it is not to be surpassed. 
It is the sole passion that cannot be thwarted without encouraging it, punished without 
rewarding it. Perfectly incomprehensible: absurd. What remains to be said? Only that the 
critic can turn this absurdity into a rationale. 

It is now her turn to speak, the discreet, modest, satiated Justine Sade chose for his 



by Maurice Blanchot 

A hundred and fifty years ago there appeared in Holland La Nouvelle Justine, ou les Malheurs 
de la Vertu, suivie de VHistoire de Juliette, sa soeur. This monumental work, which had been 
preceded by several shorter versions, had grown longer with each successive revision until it 
reached the gigantic proportions of four thousand pages in this final form. This almost 
endless, overwhelming work immediately horrified the world. 

If there is an Enfer in libraries— a special section for works deemed unfit for human 
consumption— it is for such a book. No literature of any period has seen a work so 
scandalous, one which has so profoundly wounded the thoughts and feelings of men. Today, 
when the writings of Henry Miller cause us to quake and quail, who would dare to compete 
with Sade's licentiousness? Yes, the claim can be made: we have here the most scandalous 
work ever written. Is this not reason enough for us to turn our attention to it? What! You 
mean to say we have here the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with a work beyond which no 
other writer, at any time, has ever managed to venture; we have, so to speak, a veritable 
absolute in our hands, in this relative world of letters, and we make no attempt to question or 
consult it? You mean to say it does not occur to us to ask why it is unique, why it cannot be 
exceeded, what there is about it which is so outrageous, so eternally too strong for man to 
stomach? Curious neglect. But can it be that the purity of the scandal is solely dependent 
upon this neglect? When one considers the precautions that history has taken to make a 
prodigious enigma out of Sade, when one thinks of those twenty-seven years behind bars, of 
that fettered and forbidden existence, when the sequestration affects not only a man's life but 
his afterlife— so much so that the condemnation of his work to seclusion seems to condemn 
him as well, still alive, to some eternal prison— then one is led to wonder whether the censors 
and judges who claim to immure Sade are not actually serving him instead, are not fulfilling 
the most fervent wishes of his libertinage, he who always aspired to the solitude of the 
earth's entrails, to the mystery of a subterranean and reclusive existence. In a dozen different 
ways, Sade formulated the idea that man's wildest excesses call for secrecy, for the obscurity 
of the farthest depths, the inviolable solitude of a cell. Now, the strange thing is that it is the 
guardians of morality who, by condemning Sade to solitary confinement, have thereby made 
themselves the most faithful accomplices of his immorality. It was Sade's mother-in-law, the 
prudish Madame de Montreuil, who, by turning his life into a prison, at the same time made 
of it a masterpiece of infamy and debauchery. And, similarly, if today, a hundred and fifty 
years later, Justine and Juliette still seems to us the most scandalous, the most subversive of 
books, it is because it is almost impossible to read it: every possible measure has been taken 
—by the author, the publishers, and with the added help of universal Morality— to make 
certain this book remains a secret, a wholly unreadable work, as much for its length, the way 
it was written, and its endless repetitions, as for the force of its descriptions and its ferocious 
indecency, all of which could not help but secure its damnation. A scandalous, scarcely 
approachable book, which no one can render public. But a book which also shows that there 
is no scandal where there is first no respect, and that wherever the scandal is extraordinary 

the respect is extreme. Who, indeed, is more respected than Sade? How many people, still 
today, profoundly believe that all they have to do is hold this accursed book in their hands for 
a few moments for Rousseau's arrogant warning to come true: Any girl who reads but a single 
page of this book will be lost? Such respect is indeed a great treasure for a literature and a 
civilization. One can therefore not refrain from making this one discreet request, addressed 
to all Sade's publishers present and future: when dealing with Sade, at least respect the 
scandalous aspect. 

Luckily, Sade defends himself rather well. Not only his work but his thinking remains 
impenetrable— and this in spite of the fact that both abound in detailed theories, which he 
expounds and repeats over and over again with disconcerting patience, and in spite of the fact 
that he reasons with impeccable clarity and not inconsiderable logic. He has a penchant— and 
even a passion— for systems. He expounds and affirms and offers proof; he comes back to the 
same problem a hundred times over (and a hundred is a conservative figure), he studies it 
from every angle, he considers every possible objection and answers them all, then manages 
to come up with some further objections and replies to them as well. And since what he says 
is usually simple enough, since his language is rich but precise and firm, it would seem that 
nothing should be more simple in dealing with Sade than to elucidate the ideology which, in 
his case, is inseparable from passion. And yet, what is the gist of Sade's thought? What in fact 
did he say? What is the scheme, the order of this system? Where does it begin and where 
does it end? Is there, indeed, more than the shadow of a system in the probing of this mind, 
so obsessed as it is with reason? And why is it that so many well coordinated principles fail to 
form the solid whole which they ought to and which, at least on the surface, they in fact seem 
to? That too remains unclear. Such is the first peculiar characteristic of Sade: his theories and 
ideas are constantly generating and unleashing irrational forces to which they are bound. 
These forces simultaneously animate and thwart the theories, in such a way that the theories 
resist at first but then eventually yield; they seek to dominate the insurgent force, finally do, 
but only after they have unleashed other obscure forces, which bear the theories further 
along, deflect them from their course, and distort them. The result is that everything which is 
said is clear, but seems to be at the mercy of something left unsaid, and a little later on what 
has not been explicitly stated does indeed appear and is reintegrated by logic; but then this in 
its turn succumbs to the influence of some other, still hidden force, until finally everything is 
expressed, is revealed, but also everything is plunged back again into the obscurity of 
unformulated and inexpressible thoughts. 

The reader is often ill at ease when faced with this thought which is made clear only by a 
further thought which, for the present, cannot be clarified; and he becomes even more 
uncomfortable as he realizes that Sade's stated principles— what we may term his basic 
philosophy— appears to be simplicity itself. This philosophy is one of self-interest, of absolute 
egoism: Each of us must do exactly as he pleases, each of us is bound by one law alone, that 
of his own pleasure. This morality is based upon the primary fact of absolute solitude. Sade 
has stated it, and repeated it, in every conceivable form: Nature wills that we be born alone, 
there is no real contact or relationship possible between one person and another. The only 
rule of conduct for me to follow, therefore, is to prefer whatever affects me pleasurably and, 
conversely, to hold as naught anything which, as a result of my preferences, may cause harm 
to others. The greatest pain inflicted on others is of less account than my own pleasure. Little 
do I care if the price I have to pay for my least delight is an awesome accumulation of 
atrocious crimes, for pleasure flatters me, it is within, while the effects of crime, being 
outside me, do not affect me. 

These principles are clear. We find them reiterated and developed in a thousand ways 
through some twenty volumes. Sade never tires of them. What he infinitely enjoys is to 
square them against the prevailing theories of the time, the theories of man's equality before 
Nature and the law. He then proposes this kind of reasoning: Since all men are equal in the 
eyes of Nature, I therefore have the right, because of this identity, not to sacrifice myself for 
the preservation of others, their ruin being indispensable to my happiness. Or else he will 
propound a kind of Declaration of the Rights of Eroticism, with this axiom— equally valid for 
men and women alike— as a fundamental precept: Give yourself to whomsoever desires you, 
take from whomever you please. "What evil do I do, what crime do I commit when, upon 
meeting some lovely creature, I say: 'Avail me of that part of you which can give me a 
moment's satisfaction and, if you wish, make full use of that part of mine which may prove 
agreeable to you'?" To Sade, such propositions seem irrefutable. For pages on end he invokes 
the equality of individuals and the reciprocity of rights, without ever realizing that his 
arguments, far from being buttressed by these lofty principles, are becoming meaningless 
because of them. "Never can an act of possession be exercised on a free person," he declares. 
But what conclusion does he draw from this? Not that he has lost the right to perpetrate 
violence on anyone or to abuse such a person for his own pleasure, against that person's will, 
but rather that no one, in order to refuse himself to Sade, may invoke exclusive attachments, 
a right of "possession." For Sade, the equality of all human beings is the right to equal use of 
them all, freedom is the power to bend others to his own will. 

To see formulas of this sort piling up on top of each other leads one to conclude that there 
is something missing in Sade's reasoning process, some lacuna or madness. One has the 
feeling of grappling with the product of a profoundly disturbed mind, strangely suspended 
over the void. But suddenly logic reasserts itself, the objections vanish, and little by little the 
system takes shape. Justine, who, we recall, represents Virtue in Sade's world— Virtue which 
is tenacious, humble, continually wretched and oppressed but never convinced of its errors— 
suddenly declares in a most reasonable manner: Your principles presuppose power. If my 
happiness consists in never taking into account the interests of others, in exploiting every 
opportunity to hurt or injure them, there will perforce come a day when the interests of 
others will likewise consist in doing me harm; in the name of what shall I then protest? "Can 
the person who isolates himself do battle with the whole world?" To this classic objection, 
Sade's protagonist replies, both explicitly and implicitly, in a number of ways, and these 
replies gradually lead us into the heart of his universe. Yes, he starts off by saying, my right is 
the right of power. And indeed Sade's cast of characters is composed primarily of a tiny 
number of omnipotent men who have had the energy and initiative to raise themselves above 
the law and place themselves outside the pale of prejudice, men who feel that Nature has 
singled them out and, feeling themselves worthy of this distinction, strive to assuage their 
passions by any and all means. 

These peerless men generally belong to a privileged class: they are dukes and kings, the 
Pope, himself issued from the nobility; they benefit from the advantages of their rank and 
fortune, and from the impunity which their high station confers upon them. To their birth 
they owe the inequality which they are content to exploit and perfect by the exercise of an 
implacable despotism. They are the most powerful because they belong to a powerful class. "I 
call people," says one of them, "that vile and reprehensible class which manages to survive 
only by dint of sweat and toil; all who breathe must join together against this abject class." 

Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that, although these sovereigns of debauchery 
generally concentrate in themselves and to their own advantage the full inequality of classes, 

this is but a historical circumstance to which Sade, in his value judgments, pays not the 
slightest heed. Sade discerned clearly that, at the time he was writing, power was a social 
category, that it was part and parcel of the organization of society such as it existed both 
before and after the Revolution. But he also believes that power (like solitude, moreover) is 
not merely a state but a choice and a conquest, and that only he is powerful who by his own 
will and energy knows how to make himself so. Actually, Sade's heroes are recruited from 
two opposing milieux: from among the highest and the lowest, from among the mighty of the 
world and, at the opposite pole, fished up from the sewers and cesspools of the lower depths. 
At the outset, both these groups have something extreme working for them, for the extreme 
of poverty is as powerful a stimulus as are the dazzling possibilities that fortune offers. When 
one is a Dubois or a Durand, one revolts against the law because one is too far beneath it to 
be able to conform to the law without perishing. And when one is a Saint-Fond or the Due de 
Blangis, one is too far above the law to be able to submit to it without debasement. This is 
why, in Sade's works, the apology for crime derives from two contradictory principles: for 
some men, inequality is a fact of Nature; certain persons are necessarily slaves and victims, 
they have no rights, they are nothing, against them any act, any crime is permitted. Whence 
those frenzied eulogies to tyranny, those political constitutions bent on making it forever 
impossible for the weak to seek vengeance or the poor to grow rich. "Let it be clearly 
understood," says Verneuil, 

that 'tis among Nature's intentions that there necessarily be a class of individuals 
who by their birth and inherent weakness shall remain essentially subject to the 
other class. 

The laws are not made for the people The basic precept of any wise government 

is to make certain that the people shall not encroach upon the authority of the 

And Saint-Fond: 

The people shall be kept in a state of slavery which will make it quite impossible for 
them ever to attempt to dominate the wealthy or debase their properties and 

Or again: 

All that goes under the name of crimes of libertinage shall never be punished, save 
in the slave castes. 

Here, it would seem, we have the most blatant, the wildest theoretical apology for absolute 
despotism ever formulated. But suddenly the perspective shifts. And what does Dubois say? 

Nature has caused us all to be equals born; if fate is pleased to intervene and upset 
the primary scheme of things, it is up to us to correct its caprices and, through our 

own skill, to repair the usurpations of the strongest So long as our good faith 

and patience serve only to double the weight of our chains, our crimes will be as 
Virtues, and we would be fools indeed to abstain from them when they can lessen 
the yoke wherewith their cruelty bears us down. 

And she adds: for the poor, crime alone can open the doors to life; villainy is the recompense 
for injustice, just as theft is the revenge of the dispossessed. Thus the lines are clearly drawn: 
equality, inequality; freedom to oppress, revolt against the oppressor; these are merely 
provisional arguments by which Sadean man, depending on his position in the social 
hierarchy, asserts his right to power. Actually, the distinction between those who require 
crime in order to survive and those for whom crime is the sole source of pleasure, will soon 
vanish. Madame Dubois becomes a baroness. Madame Durand, a fourth-rate poisoner, 
ascends to a higher station than that occupied by the selfsame princesses whom Juliette 
unhesitatingly sacrifices to her. Counts become bandit chieftains, the head of a group of 
highwaymen (as in Faxelange), or else innkeepers, the better to despoil and murder fools. 
Most of the victims of libertinage, however, are selected from among the aristocracy; they 
must be of noble birth. It is to his mother, the Countess, that the Marquis de Bressac declares 
with superb contempt: "Thy days belong to me, and mine are sacred." 

Now, what happens? A few men have become powerful. Some were bequeathed power by 
birth, but they have also demonstrated that they deserve it by the way in which they have 
accrued it and enjoyed it. Others have risen to power, and the sign of their success is that, 
once having resorted to crime to acquire power, they use it to acquire the freedom to commit 
any crime whatsoever. Such then is Sade's world: a few people who have reached the 
pinnacle, and around them an infinite, nameless dust, an anonymous mass of creatures 
which has neither rights nor power. Let us see what now happens to the rule of absolute 
egoism. I do whatever I please, says Sade's hero, all I know, all I recognize is my own 
pleasure, and to make certain I get it I torture and kill. You threaten me with a like fate the 
day I shall happen to meet someone whose happiness is dependent on torturing and killing 
me. But I have acquired power precisely in order to raise myself above this threat. Whenever 
Sade comes up with answers such as these, we can feel ourselves slipping toward an area of 
his thought which is sustained solely by the obscure forces which lurk therein. What is this 
power which fears neither chance nor law, which exposes itself disdainfully to the terrible 
risks of a rule conceived in these terms: I shall do you all the harm I please, you may do me 
all the harm you can— under the assumption that such a rule will invariably operate to its 
advantage? Now, the point is that all it takes is a single exception for these principles to 
disintegrate and collapse: if the Powerful One, whose sole purpose is pleasure, ever once 
encounters misfortune, if in the exercise of his tyranny he once becomes a victim, he will be 
lost, the law of pleasure will appear a sham, a lie, and man, instead of wishing to triumph 
through excess, will once again revert to that mediocrity that ever casts a worried eye in fear 
of the slightest evil which may befall him. 

Sade knows this. "And what if luck should turn against you?" Justine asks him. Sade's 
reply is to delve deeper into his system and demonstrate that to him who casts his lot 
wholeheartedly with evil, nothing evil can ever happen. This is the basic tenet, the very 
cornerstone of his work: to Virtue, nothing but misfortune; to Vice, the reward of constant 
prosperity. There are times, especially in the early versions of Justine, when this assertion 
seems to be a simple meretricious hypothesis which the author, always adroitly maneuvering 
the tale to suit his own needs, advances as proof. One has the impression that Sade is 
spinning fables and being taken in by them when he entrusts matters to a black Providence 
whose function it is to shower blessings on all those who have opted for evil. But in La 
Nouvelle Justine and in Juliette everything changes. There can be no doubt that Sade is 
profoundly convinced of at least this: that the man of absolute egoism can never fall upon 
evil days; better, that he will, without exception, be forever happy, and happy to the highest 

degree. A mad idea? Perhaps. But with Sade the idea is allied to forces so violent that they 
finally render irrefutable, in his eyes, the ideas they support. In actual fact, the translation of 
this conviction into doctrine is not at all that simple. Sade resorts to several solutions, he 
tries them endlessly, although none can really ever satisfy him. The first is strictly verbal: it 
consists in repudiating the social contract which, according to Sade, is the safeguard of the 
weak and, theoretically, constitutes a grave menace for the powerful. In practice, however, 
the Powerful One knows full well how to utilize the law to consolidate his advantages. But if 
he does this, then he is powerful only through the law, and it is the law which, in principle, 
incarnates power. Except in time of war, or during a period of anarchy, the Sovereign is 
merely the sovereign, for even if the law helps him to crush the weak, it is nevertheless 
through an authority created in the name of the weak that he becomes master, substituting 
the false bond of a pact for the naked strength of man. "My neighbors' passions frighten me 
infinitely less than do the law's injustices, for my neighbors' passions are contained by mine, 
whilst nothing constrains, nothing checks the injustices of the law." Nothing checks the 
inequities of the law for the simple reason that there is nothing above it, hence it is always 
superior to me. This is why, even if it serves me, it also oppresses me. This is also why Sade, 
whatever affinity he may have had for the Revolution and however much he was able to 
identify himself with it, was drawn to it only to the extent that it constituted for a short time 
the possibility of a regime without law, since it represented a transition period from one set 
of laws to the other. Sade gave voice to this idea in the following curious observations: 

The rule of law is inferior to that of anarchy: the most obvious proof of what I assert 
is the fact that any government is obliged to plunge itself into anarchy whenever it 
aspires to remake its constitution. In order to abrogate its former laws, it is 
compelled to establish a revolutionary regime in which there is no law: this regime 
finally gives birth to new laws, but this second state is necessarily less pure than the 
first, since it derives from it 

Actually, Power adapts itself to, and refuses to acknowledge the authority of, any regime; 
in the midst of a world denatured by law, it creates for itself an enclave in which all law is 
silenced, a closed place wherein all legal sovereignty is ignored rather than contested. In the 
statutes of the Societe des Amis du Crime, there is one article which prohibits all political 

The Society respects the government under which it lives, and if it places itself above 
the law it is because one of its principles specifies that man does not have the power 
to make laws in conflict with the laws of Nature; but the disorders of the Society's 
members, being always interior, must never scandalize either the governed or the 

And if in Sade's writings it sometimes does come to pass that the Power undertakes some 
political action or becomes involved in a revolution— as is the case with Borchamps who 
conspires with the Loge du Nord to overthrow the Swedish monarchy— the reasons which 
lead him to do so are quite unrelated to any desire to emancipate the law. "Why do you so 
loathe Swedish despotism?" one of the conspirators is asked. "Jealousy, ambition, pride, 
despair at the thought of being dominated, my own desire to tyrannize others." "But does the 
happiness of the people have no bearing upon your opinions?" "All I am interested in is my 


If pressed, Power can always maintain that it has nothing to fear from the ordinary man, 
who is weak, and likewise nothing to fear from the law, which it refuses to recognize as being 
legitimate. The real problem is the relationship of the powerful among themselves. These 
peerless men, who come from the highest as well as the lowest echelons of society, 
necessarily meet: the similarity of their tastes brings them together; the fact that they are 
exceptions, by setting them both apart, also brings them together. But what relation can there 
be between exceptions? Sade certainly pondered this question at great length. As always, he 
moves from one possible solution to another until finally, at the end of his chain of logic, he 
brings forth from this enigma the only word that matters to him. When he devises a secret 
society governed by strict conventions, the purpose of which is to curb excesses, he can cite 
the precedent of numerous similar societies then much in vogue. For Sade lived at a time 
when the freemasonry of libertinage and freemasonry itself led to the emergence, in the 
midst of a society in ruins, of a great number of secret societies, clandestine "colleges" 
founded on the complicity of passions and on a mutual respect for dangerous ideas. The 
Societe des Amis du Crime is an effort of this kind. Its statutes, studied and analyzed at great 
length, forbid its members from indulging in any displays of ferocious passion among 
themselves, stipulating that these passions can only be satiated in two seraglios which are to 
be peopled by members of the virtuous classes. When they are in each other's company, the 
members must "give themselves over to their freest fantasies, and do everything"; but, says 
Sade, "no cruel passions allowed." We can easily see why: it is a question of avoiding at all 
costs the encounter, on a terrain where evil would become their undoing, of those who expect 
only pleasure from evil. Superior libertines are allies, but never meet. 

Such a compromise cannot satisfy Sade. It must therefore be pointed out that, although 
the heroes of his books are constantly drawn into close alliance with one another by the 
conventions which determine the limits of their power and superimpose order on chaos, the 
possibility of betrayal is forever present: between accomplices there is a constantly mounting 
tension, so much so that they ultimately feel themselves less bound by the oath that unites 
them than by the mutual need to violate this oath. This situation makes the final part of 
Juliette extremely dramatic. Juliette is a woman of principle. She respects libertinage, and 
when she meets an accomplished criminal, the perfection of the crime for which he is 
responsible and the power of destruction which he represents not only induce her to join 
forces with him but, what is more, lead her to spare his life if she can, even when this alliance 
becomes dangerous for her. Thus, even though she is in danger of being killed by the monster 
Minski, she refuses to have him murdered. "This man is too great a scourge to humanity for 
me to deprive the world of him," she says. And then there is another character, the author of 
veritable masterpieces of lubricity: yes, him she finally does destroy, but only because she has 
noticed that, upon emerging from these orgies of blood, he has developed the habit of retiring 
to a chapel to purify his soul. Is the perfect criminal therefore presumed to be exempt from 
the passions in which he indulges? Can it be that there is a principle, an ultimate principle, 
which guarantees that the libertine can never be either the object or the victim of his own 
libertinage? "You have told me a hundred times," Madame de Donis says to Juliette, "that 
libertines never harm one another. Do you care to refute this maxim?" The reply is clear: 
Juliette does indeed refute it; Madame de Donis is sacrificed. And gradually the most beloved 
confederates in crime, the most respected companions of debauchery perish, victims either of 
their own fidelity or their perjury, or of the lassitude or the ardor of their feelings. Nothing 
can save them, nothing excuses them. Scarcely has Juliette sent her best friends to their 

death than she turns toward new allies and exchanges with them vows of eternal confidence. 
Vows they themselves find risible, since they know full well that the only reason they assign 
any limitations to their excesses is in order to be in a position to harvest the pleasure which 
comes from exceeding them. 

The following exchange of conversation among several masters of crime fairly describes 
this situation. One of the criminals, Gernand, says of his cousin Bressac: "You know, he is my 
heir. And yet I dare say he is not in any hurry for my life: we have the same tastes, we think 
in the same way, he knows that he has a sure friend in me." That's all very true, says Bressac, 
I shall never harm a hair on your head. And yet this Bressac points out that another of their 
relatives, d'Esterval, who makes a specialty of slitting the throats of passing travelers, had 
come close to murdering him. "Yes," says d'Esterval, "but as a relative, never as a companion 
in debauchery." But Bressac remains skeptical, and, indeed, they concur that this 
consideration almost failed to stop Dorothee, d'Esterval's wife. And what does this Dorothee 
reply? "Your praise is in your death warrant. The terrible habit I have of immolating the men 
who please me means that your sentence is passed and inscribed right next to my declaration 
of love." All of which is quite clear. But under these conditions what becomes of Sade's 
proposition concerning happiness through Evil? What happens to that certainty that the man 
of all vices will always be happy, as he who has but a single virtue will perforce be plagued by 
misfortune? Actually, Sade's work is strewn with the corpses of libertines struck down at the 
very pinnacle of their glory. Justine is not alone in her wretchedness; misfortune strikes the 
strongest and most energetic of Sade's heroines as well, the superb Clairwil, as it strikes 
Saint-Fond, murdered by Noirceuil, and the licentious Borghese, who is hurled headlong into 
the crater of a volcano; as, indeed, it strikes literally hundreds of perfect criminals. Strange 
denouements, singular triumphs for these perverse men! How can Sade's mad reason remain 
blind to all these many contradictions it contains? But it is precisely these contradictions 
which, for Sade, provide him with his proof, and this is why: 

A cursory reading of Justine can be deceiving; one may erroneously think it no more than a 
rather coarse and vulgar piece of fiction. We see this virtuous girl who is forever being raped, 
beaten, tortured, the victim of a fate bent on her destruction. And when we read Juliette we 
follow a depraved girl as she flies from pleasure to pleasure. It is hardly likely that we shall be 
convinced by such a plot. But the point is that we have overlooked the book's most important 
aspect: the reader who is merely attentive to the sadness of one and the satisfaction of the 
other has neglected to remark that the two sisters' stories are basically identical, that 
everything which happens to Justine also happens to Juliette, that both go through the same 
gantlet of experiences and are put to the same painful tests. Juliette is also cast into prison, 
roundly flogged, sentenced to the rack, endlessly tortured. Hers is a hideous existence, but 
here is the rub: from these ills, these agonies, she derives pleasure; these tortures delight her. 
"How delicious are the irons wrought by the crime one adores." Not to mention those 
uncommon tortures which are so terrible for Justine and which, for Juliette, are a source of 
pure delight. In one scene set in the chateau of a wicked magistrate, poor Justine is subjected 
to tortures which are truly execrable. Her pain is indescribable. The reader is taken 
completely aback by such injustice. And then what happens? A thoroughly depraved girl who 
has witnessed the scene and become inflamed by the spectacle demands that the same 
torture be inflicted on her, right there on the spot. And from it she derives the most exquisite 
pleasure. Thus it is true that Virtue is the source of man's unhappiness, not because it 
exposes him to painful or unfortunate circumstances but because, if Virtue were eliminated, 
what was once painful then becomes pleasurable, and torments become voluptuous. 

For Sade, sovereign man is impervious to evil because no one can do him any harm. He is a 
man possessed of every passion, and his passions are slaked by any and every thing. We have 
had a tendency to take Jean Paulhan's conclusions that Sade's sadism conceals a contrary 
propensity as a paradox too witty and too clever to be true. 1 But we can see that this idea is 
the very heart of Sade's system. The absolute egoist is he who is able to transform everything 
disagreeable into something likable, everything repugnant into something attractive. Like the 
bedroom philosopher, he declares: "I love everything, I enjoy everything, my desire is to 
commingle all kinds and contraries." And this is why Sade, in his Les 120 Journees, has set 
himself the gigantic task of drawing up the complete inventory of anomalies and aberrations, 
listing every kind of human possibility. In order to be at the mercy of nothing, it was 
necessary for him to experience everything. 

You shall know nothing if you have not known everything, and if you are timid 
enough to stop with what is natural, Nature will elude your grasp forever. 

One understands why the sorrowful Justine's objection: "And what if luck should turn 
against you?" cannot upset the criminal soul. For if indeed luck does reverse itself and turn 
into misfortune, the latter will actually be no more than another facet of fortune itself, as 
much to be desired and as satisfying as the former. But you are risking the gallows! You may 
end in the most ignominious of deaths. "That," replies the libertine, "is my most cherished 
desire." "Ah, Juliette," Borghese says, 

if only my transgressions can lead me like the last of creatures to the fate to which 
their wild abandon conducts them. The gallows itself would be for me a voluptuous 
throne, and there would I face death by relishing the pleasure of expiring a victim of 
my crimes. 

And another: 

The true libertine loves even the reproaches he receives for the unspeakable deeds 
he has done. Have we not seen some who loved the very tortures human vengeance 
was readying for them, who submitted to them joyfully, who beheld the scaffold as a 
throne of glory upon which they would have been most grieved not to perish with 
the same courage they had displayed in the loathsome exercise of their heinous 
crimes? There is the man at the ultimate degree of meditated corruption. 

Against a Power such as this, what can the law do? It believes it is punishing him, and 
actually it is rewarding him; it exalts him by debasing him. Similarly, what can the libertine 
do, what injury inflict upon his peer? He may one day betray and destroy him, but this 
betrayal is the source of savage pleasure to him who is the victim of it and who views such a 
betrayal as the confirmation of all his suspicions and can die reveling in the thought that he 
has been the occasion for yet a new crime (not to mention other joys). 

One of Sade's most curious heroines is named Amelie. She lives in Sweden, and one day 
she seeks out Borchamps, the conspirator whom we have already mentioned. Borchamps, 
hoping for a gigantic massacre, has just betrayed all his fellow plotters and delivered them 
into the hands of the king. This betrayal has fired Amelie's enthusiasm. "I love your ferocity," 
she tells him. 

Swear to me that I shall one day be your victim. Since the age of fifteen, my mind 
has been ablaze, obsessed with the idea of perishing a victim of libertinage's most 
cruel passions. I do not wish to die tomorrow, no doubt; my extravagance does not 
go that far. But in no other manner do I wish to die: to become, in expiring, the 
occasion of a crime is an idea that makes my head spin. 

Strange head, full worthy of this reply: "I love your mind to the point of madness, and I 
believe that you and I will do splendid things together." Then: "There's no denying it: she's 
rotten, putrefied." 

Thus, everything begins to grow clear: to the integral man, who is at his fullest, there is no 
possible evil. If he injures others, the result is voluptuous; injury endured at their hands is 
sheer delight. Virtue pleases him because Virtue is weak and he crushes it; Vice pleases him 
because he finds pleasure in the chaos that results from it, even though it be at his expense. 
If he lives, there is no circumstance, no event that he cannot turn into happiness. And if he 
dies, he finds an even greater happiness in his death, and in the knowledge of his destruction 
he sees the crowning achievement of a life whose sole justification lay in the need to destroy. 
He is therefore inaccessible to others. He is impervious to all attacks, nothing can rob him of 
his power to be himself and to enjoy himself. That is the primary meaning of his solitude. 
Even if he in his turn seemingly becomes a victim and a thrall, the violence of the passions he 
knows how to slake in any situation assures him of his sovereignty and makes him feel that 
in any circumstance, in life as in death, he remains omnipotent. It is for this reason that, 
despite the analogy of the descriptions, it seems only fair to leave to Sacher-Masoch the 
paternity of masochism, and the paternity of sadism to Sade. The pleasure Sade's heroes find 
in degradation never lessens their self-possession, and abjection adds to their stature. Shame, 
remorse, a penchant for punishment— all such feelings are foreign to them. When Saint-Fond 
says to Juliette: "My pride is such that I should like to be served by persons kneeling, and 
never speak to that vile scum called people save through an interpreter," she replies, without 
a trace of irony, by asking: "But don't the caprices of libertinage compel you to come down 
from such heights?" To which Saint-Fond replies: "For minds as organized as ours, that 
humiliation serves as an exquisite flattery to our pride." And Sade adds in a note: "This is 
readily understood; one does what no one else does; one is therefore unique." On the moral 
level, the same prideful satisfaction in the feeling that one is an exile from humanity: 

The world must tremble upon learning of the crimes we shall have committed. Men 
must be made to blush and feel ashamed at belonging to the same species as we do. 
I demand that a monument be raised to commemorate this crime and signal it to the 
whole world, and that our names be graven upon it by our own hands. 

To be unique, unique among one's own species, is indeed the sign of true sovereignty, and 
we shall see to what absolute limits Sade has taken this category, and what absolute meaning 
he has given it. 

The whole scheme is beginning to be even clearer. And yet at the stage to which we have 
progressed we also feel that it is also becoming very dark indeed. This deft movement by 
which the Unique Being eludes the influence and control of others is far from crystal clear. In 
certain respects, it is a sort of stoic insensibility, which seems to assume man's perfect 
autonomy with respect to the world. But at the same time it is the exact opposite, for the 
Unique Being, being independent of all the others who are incapable of harming him, 

immediately declares complete dominion over them. And it is not because others are 
powerless against him that torture, the stab of the dagger, and debasing maneuvers they 
devise against him leave him intact, but because he can do whatever he wishes to others that 
even the pain others cause him affords him the pleasure of power and helps him exercise his 
sovereignty. Now, this situation becomes very embarrassing. For the moment that "to be 
master of myself means "to be master of others," the moment my independence does not 
derive from my autonomy but from the dependence of others upon me, it becomes obvious 
that I remain bound to the others and have need of them, if only to reduce them to nothing. 
Sade's commentators have often pointed out this difficulty. It is far from certain whether 
Sade himself was aware of it, and one of the original aspects of this "exceptional" philosophy 
perhaps comes from this fact: when one is not Sade there is a crucial problem created, 
through which the relations of mutual solidarity between master and slave are reintroduced; 
but if one is Sade, there is no problem and, furthermore, it is impossible even to imagine one 
in this connection. 

It is impossible for us to examine, as we should, the large number of texts (with Sade, 
everything is always infinitely numerous) which relate to this situation. Actually, there is a 
plethora of contradictions. Sometimes the most ferocious libertinage seems as though 
haunted by the contradiction of its pleasures. The libertine derives his most exquisite 
pleasure and joy from the destruction of his victims, but this joy ruins itself, is self- 
destructive, since it annihilates what causes it. "The pleasure one gets from killing a woman," 
says one of them, 

is soon past; once dead, she feels nothing further; the pleasure of making her suffer 
disappears with her life. . . . Brand her (with a red-hot iron); sully and soil her; from 
this debasement she will suffer to the very last moments of her life and our lust, 
infinitely prolonged, will as a result be even more delicious. 

Similarly, Saint-Fond, not content with tortures that are too simple, dreams of a kind of 
infinitely protracted death for everyone; it is for this reason that he conceives of an 
undeniably ingenious system whereby he would avail himself of Hell and arrange to use, in 
this upper world, Hell's inexhaustible resources for torturing victims of his choice. Here we 
can surely discern what inextricable bonds oppression creates between the oppressor and the 
oppressed. Sade's heroes draw their sustenance from the deaths they cause, and there are 
times when, dreaming of everlasting life, he dreams of a death he can inflict eternally. The 
result is that the executioner and the victim, set eternally face to face, find themselves 
endowed equally with the same power, with the same divine attribute of eternity. It would be 
impossible to claim that such a contradiction does not exist in Sade's work. But even more 
often he attempts to by-pass it by the use of arguments that give us a much clearer and more 
profound picture of the world that is his. Clairwil chides Saint-Fond for what she terms his 
unpardonable excesses, and to restore him to the right path she advises him thus: 

Get rid of that voluptuous idea which works you up to such a white-hot pitch— the 
idea of indefinitely prolonging the agonies of the creature you have selected to kill- 
get rid of it and replace it by a greater abundance of murders. Do not concentrate on 
killing the same person over a long period, which is an impossibility, but murder a 
whole host of others, which is entirely feasible. 

Increased numbers is indeed the more correct solution. To consider human beings from the 
viewpoint of quantity kills them more completely than does the physical act of violence 
which annihilates them. It may well be that the criminal is inextricably bound to and involved 
with the person he murders. But the libertine who, as he immolates his victim, feels only the 
need to sacrifice a thousand others, seems strangely free of all involvement with him. In his 
eyes, the victim does not of itself exist, he is not a distinct individual but a mere sign, which is 
indefinitely replaceable in a vast erotic equation. When we read statements such as this: 
"Nothing is so amusing, nothing so stimulates and excites the brain as do large numbers," we 
comprehend more fully why Sade utilizes the concept of equality so often to buttress his 
arguments. To declare that all men are equal is equivalent to saying that no one is worth 
more than any other, all are interchangeable, each is only a unit, a cipher in an infinite 
progression. For the Unique Person, all men are equal in their nothingness, and the Unique 
One, by reducing them to nothing, simply clarifies and demonstrates this nothingness. 

That is what makes Sade's world so strange. Scenes of savagery are followed by more 
scenes of savagery. The repetition is as extraordinary as it is endless. It is not unusual for a 
libertine to slaughter four or five hundred victims in a single session; then he starts in again 
the following day; then again that same evening with a new ceremony. The arrangements and 
positions may vary slightly, but once again things work up to a fever pitch and hecatomb 
succeeds hecatomb. But is it not eminently clear that those who perish in these gigantic 
butcheries no longer possess the slightest reality, and if they disappear with such ludicrous 
ease it is because they have previously been annihilated by a total, absolute act of destruction, 
because they are present and die only to bear witness to this kind of original cataclysm, this 
destruction applicable not only to themselves but to everyone else as well? What is especially 
striking is the fact that the world in which the Unique One lives and moves and has his being 
is a desert; the creatures he encounters there are less than things, less than shades. And 
when he torments and destroys them he is not wresting away their lives but verifying their 
nothingness, establishing his authority over their non-existence, and from this he derives his 
greatest satisfaction. What in fact does the Due de Blangis say to the women who, at the dawn 
of the first of the hundred and twenty days, have been gathered together as the pleasure 
pawns for the four libertines? 

Consider your circumstances, remember who you are and who we are, and let these 
reflections cause you to tremble and shudder with horror. You are outside the 
borders of France, in the heart of an uninhabited forest, far beyond the steep 
mountains whose paths and passages have been obliterated behind you the minute 
you crossed over them; you are sealed in an impregnable citadel, no one in the world 
has the slightest idea where are you, you are beyond the reach of both your friends 
and your family: so far as the world is concerned, you are already dead. 

This last should be taken quite literally. These women are already dead, suppressed, enclosed 
in the absolute void of a bastille into which existence no longer dares to enter, a bastille 
where their lives serve only to make manifest this quality of "already dead" with which they 
are commingled. 

We shall leave aside the tales of necrophilia which, while there is no dearth of them in 
Sade's writings, seem at some remove from the "normal" inclinations of his heroes. We 
should, moreover, point out that whenever Sade's heroes exclaim: "Ah, the lovely corpse!" 
and wax ecstatic at the insensibility of death, they have generally begun their careers as 

murderers, and it is the effects of this capacity for aggression that they are striving to prolong 
beyond the grave. It is undeniable that what characterizes Sade's world is not the desire to 
become one with the cadaver's immobilized and petrified existence, nor is it the attempt to 
slip into the passivity of a form representing the absence of forms, of a wholly real reality, 
shielded and protected from life's uncertainties and yet incarnating the very essence of 
irreality. Quite the contrary: the center of Sade's world is the urgent need for sovereignty to 
assert itself by an enormous negation. This negation, which cannot be satisfied or adequately 
demonstrated on the plane of the particular, requires large quantities, for it is basically 
intended to transcend the plane of human existence. It is in vain that Sadean man imposes 
himself on others by his power to destroy them: if he gives the impression of never being 
dependent on them, even in the situation where he finds himself obliged to annihilate them— 
if he invariably seems capable of doing without them, it is because he has placed himself on a 
plane where he and they no longer have anything in common, and he has done this by setting 
himself such goals and lending his projects a scope which infinitely transcends man and his 
puny existence. In other words, insofar as Sadean man seems surprisingly free with respect to 
his victims— upon whom, however, his pleasures depend— it is because violence, as it applies 
to and is used upon them, is not aimed at them but at something else, something far beyond 
them, and all Sade's violence does is to authenticate— frenziedly, and endlessly in each 
particular case— the general act of destruction by which he has reduced God and the world to 

Clearly, with Sade the criminal instinct stems from a nostalgic, transcendental vision 
which the miserable practical possibilities are forever debasing and dishonoring. The most 
glorious crime which this poor world is capable of providing is a wretched nothing which 
makes the libertine blush with shame. Like the monk Jerome, there is not one among them 
who is not overwhelmed with shame at the thought of how mediocre his crimes are, and all 
seek a crime superior to any of which man is capable in this world. "And unhappily," says 
Jerome, "I cannot find it. All we do is but the pale image of what we dream of doing." And 
Clairwil says: 

What I should like to find is a crime the effects of which would be perpetual, even 
when I myself do not act, so that there would not be a single moment of my life, 
even when I were asleep, when I was not the cause of some chaos, a chaos of such 
proportions that it would provoke a general corruption or a disturbance so formal 
that even after my death its effects would still be felt. 

To which Juliette offers this reply, calculated to please the author of the La Nouvelle Justine: 
"Try your hand at a moral crime, the kind one commits in writing." Although Sade, in his 
doctrine, reduced to a strict minimum the part played by intellectual pleasures, although he 
eliminated almost entirely intellectual eroticism (because his own erotic dream consists in 
projecting, onto characters who do not dream but really act, the unreal movement of his 
pleasures: Sade's eroticism is a dream eroticism, since it expresses itself almost exclusively in 
fiction; but the more this eroticism is imagined, the more it requires a fiction from which 
dream is excluded, a fiction wherein debauchery can be enacted and lived), and although Sade 
does however, and in an exceptional sense, exalt the imaginary, it is because he is 
wonderfully well aware of the fact that the basis for many an imperfect crime is some 
impossible crime that only the imagination can comprehend. And that is why he allows 
Belmore to say: 

Ah, Juliette, how delightful are the pleasures of the imagination! In these delectable 
moments, the whole world is ours; not a single creature resists us, we devastate the 
world, we repopulate it with new objects which, in turn, we immolate. The means to 
every crime is ours, and we employ them all, we multiply the horror a hundredfold. 

In his volume of essays Sade mon prochain, wherein the boldest ideas are advanced on 
Sade and also on the problems Sade's existence can help to clarify, Pierre Klossowski explains 
the extremely complex character of the relations the Sadean consciousness entertains with 
God and with its fellow men. He shows that these are negative, but that, inasmuch as this 
negation is real, it reintroduces the concept it rejects: the concept of God and of one's fellow 
man are, Klossowski says, indispensable to the libertine consciousness. This is a point we 
could discuss endlessly, for Sade's work is a welter of clear ideas wherein everything is stated 
but wherein everything is also concealed. Nevertheless, Sade's originality seems to us to 
reside in his extremely firm claim to found man's sovereignty upon a transcendent power of 
negation, a power which in no wise depends upon the objects it destroys and which, in order 
to destroy them, does not even presuppose their previous existence because, at the instant it 
destroys them, it has already previously, and without exception, considered them as nothing. 
A dialectic such as this finds both its best example and, perhaps, its justification, in the stance 
Sade's Omnipotent One assumes with respect to divine omnipotence. 

Maurice Heine has emphasized Sade's extraordinary steadfastness of purpose when it 
comes to atheism. 2 But how right Klossowski is to remind us that Sade's is not a cold-blooded 
atheism. The moment the name of God is interjected into even the mildest discussion or plot, 
the language is instantly ignited, the tone becomes haranguing and the words are infused 
with and overwhelmed by hate. It is surely not in the scenes of luxury and lust that Sade's 
passion is revealed; but whenever the Unique One finds the slightest vestige of God in his 
path, then are the violence and scorn and heat of pride and the vertigo of power and desire 
immediately awakened. In a way, the notion of God is man's inexpiable fault, his original sin, 
the proof of his nothingness, the thing which justifies and authorizes crime, for when one is 
dealing with a person who has accepted to prostrate himself before God and declare himself 
as worthless in God's eyes, one cannot resort to too extreme or too energetic measures 
against him. "The notion of God is the one fault I cannot forgive in man," writes Sade. A 
decisive thought, and one of the keys of his system. The belief in an omnipotent God who 
only grants to man the reality of a wisp of straw, an atom of nothingness, makes it incumbent 
upon the integral man to retrieve this superhuman power and exercise himself, on behalf of 
man and at the expense of men, the sovereign right which they have granted to God. When 
the criminal kills, he is God-on-earth, because he effects between his victim and himself a 
relationship of subordination wherein the latter sees the concrete definition of divine 
sovereignty. The moment a true libertine detects, be it in the mind of the most corrupt 
debauchee, the slightest trace of religious faith, he immediately decrees him dead: for the 
miscreant debauchee has destroyed himself, by having abdicated into the hands of God. To do 
so means that he considers himself as nothing, so that he who kills him is simply rectifying a 
situation which is only thinly veiled by appearances. 

Sadean man denies man, and this negation is achieved through the intermediary of the 
notion of God. He temporarily makes himself God, so that there before him men are reduced 
to nothing and discover the nothingness of a being before God. "It is true, is it not, prince, 
that you do not love men?" Juliette asks. "I loathe them. Not a moment goes by that my mind 
is not busy plotting violently to do them harm. Indeed, there is no race more horrible, more 

frightful How low and scurvy, how vile and disgusting a race it is!" "But," Juliette breaks 

in, "you do not really believe that you are to be included among men?. . . Oh, no, no, when 
one dominates them with such energy, it is impossible to belong to the same race." To which 
Saint-Fond: "Yes, she is right, we are gods." 

Still, the dialectic evolves to further levels: Sade's man, who has taken unto himself the 
power to set himself above men— the power which men madly yield to God— never for a 
moment forgets that this power is completely negative. To be God can have only one 
meaning: to crush man, to reduce creation to nothing. "I should like to be Pandora's box," 
Saint-Fond says at another point, "so that all the evils which escaped from my breast might 
destroy all mankind individually." And Verneuil: "And if it were true a God existed, would we 
not be his rivals, since we destroy thus what he has made?" This is the way an ambiguous 
conception of the Omnipotent is gradually fashioned, and yet there can scarcely be any doubt 
about the ultimate meaning. Klossowski refers often to the theories of this same Saint-Fond, 
some of whose views we have cited and who, among all Sade's heroes, is the only one to 
believe in a Supreme Being. But the God in whom he believes is not terribly benign, but 
"extremely vindictive, very barbaric, very wicked, most unjust, and very cruel." He is the 
Supreme Being of wickedness, the God of malfeasance. From this idea Sade deduced all kinds 
of brilliant theories. He imagines a Last Judgment which he describes with all the resources 
of savage humor which he possesses. We hear God upbraiding the good in these terms: 

When you saw that everything was vicious and criminal on earth, why did you stray 
into the paths of virtue? Did not the perpetual misery with which I covered the 
universe suffice to convince you that I love only disorder and chaos, and that to 
please me you must irritate me? Did I not daily provide you with the example of 
destruction? Seeing which, Fool, why did you not destroy, why did you not do as I 

But having recalled this, it is obvious that the conception of an infernal God is but a way 
station of the dialectic according to which Sade's superman, after having denied man in the 
guise of God, next advances to meet God and will in turn deny him in the name of Nature, in 
order finally to deny Nature by identifying it with the spirit of negation. In the evil God, the 
negation which has just exterminated the notion of man rests as it were for a few moments 
before launching a new attack, this time against itself. In becoming God, Saint-Fond by the 
same stroke compels God to become Saint-Fond, and the Supreme Being, into whose hands 
the weak have committed themselves in order to force the strong to commit themselves as 
well, no longer asserts Himself except as the gigantic constraint of a rocklike transcendence 
which crushes each in proportion to his frailty. This is hatred of mankind hypostasized, raised 
to its highest degree. But no sooner has the spirit of negation attained the pinnacle of 
absolute existence than it is compelled to become aware of its own infinitude and can only 
turn against the affirmation of this absolute existence, which now is the sole object worthy of 
a negation grown infinite. It is the hatred of men that was embodied in God. Now it is the 
hatred of God which liberates from God hatred itself— a hatred so violent that it seems to be 
constantly, moment by moment, projecting the reality of what it is denying, the better to 
assert and justify itself. "If that existence— if God's existence," says Dubois, 

should prove to be true, the mere pleasure of baiting and annoying the person so 
designated would become the most precious compensation for the necessity I would 

then find myself in to acknowledge some belief in him. 

But does a hate so intense and searing as this not indicate, as Klossowski would seem to 
believe, a faith which had forgotten its name and resorted to blasphemy as a means of forcing 
God to break his silence? That seems quite unlikely to us. On the contrary, everything 
suggests that the only reason this powerful hatred has shown such a predilection for the deity 
is because it has found in him both a pretense and a privileged sustenance. For Sade, God is 
clearly nothing more than a prop for his hate. That hatred is too great to be concerned about 
any particular object; being infinite, and as it is constantly transcending any limits, it tends to 
delight in itself and to wax ecstatic over that infinitude to which it lends the name of God 
("The sole source of your system," Clairwil says to Saint-Fond, "is your profound hatred for 
God."). But it is hate and hate alone which is real, and in the end it will turn itself with the 
same intensity and fearlessness against Nature as against the non-existent God it loathes. 

Actually, if Sade's most tempestuous passions are unleashed by things religious, by the 
name of God and by his priests, whom Sade terms "God-makers," it is because the terms God 
and religion embody virtually every form of his hatred. In God, he hates the nothingness of 
man, who has fashioned such a master for himself, and the thought of this nothingness 
irritates and inflames him to such an extent that all he can do is join forces with God to 
sanction this nothingness. And he also hates God's omnipotence, in which he recognizes 
what should properly belong to him, and God becomes the figure and embodiment of his 
infinite hate. And finally, what he hates in God is God's poverty, the nullity of an existence 
which, however much it may posit itself as existence and creation, is nothing, for what is 
great, what is everything, is the spirit of destruction. 

This spirit of destruction, in Sade's system, is identified with Nature. This point proved to 
be a thorny one for Sade, and he found himself forced to grope his way along, and in fact had 
to repudiate the then fashionable atheistic philosophies for which he could not help but feel a 
certain sympathy and from which his reason, always eager for supporting opinions, could 
draw an inexhaustible supply. But to the extent that he was able to pass beyond naturalistic 
ideology and that he was not taken in by external analogies, he proves to us that in him logic 
has proceeded to its ultimate limits without ever abandoning the field to the obscure forces 
which supported it. "Nature" is one of those words Sade, like so many eighteenth-century 
authors, delighted in writing. It is in the name of Nature that he wages his battle against God 
and against everything that God stands for, especially morality. There is no need to 
emphasize this point: Sade emphasizes it over and over again; his material on the subject is 
truly staggering. According to him, this Nature is first of all universal life, and for hundreds 
and hundreds of pages his whole philosophy consists in reiterating that immoral instincts are 
good, since they are the facts of Nature, and the first and last appeal must be to Nature. In 
other words, no morality: the fact reigns. But subsequently, bothered by the equal value he 
sees himself obliged to accord both to good and evil instincts and impulses, he attempts to 
establish a new scale of values with crime at the summit. His principal argument consists in 
maintaining that crime conforms more closely to the spirit of Nature, because it is 
movement, that is life; Nature, he says, which wishes to create, needs crime, which destroys: 
all this is set forth in the greatest detail and at incredible length, and sometimes with rather 
striking proof. Nevertheless, by dint of talking about Nature, by being constantly faced with 
this frame of reference, ubiquitous and commanding, the Sadean protagonist becomes 
gradually annoyed, his anger mounts, and before long his hatred for Nature is such that 
Nature, unbearable in his eyes, is the target for his anathemas and negations. "Yes, my friend, 

yes indeed, I loathe Nature." There are two deep-seated reasons for this revolt. On the one 
hand, he finds it quite intolerable that the incredible power of destruction which he 
represents has no other purpose than to authorize Nature to create. And on the other hand, 
insofar as he himself belongs to Nature he feels that Nature eludes his negation, and that the 
more he insults and defiles it the better he serves it, the more he annihilates it the more he is 
submitting to its law. Whence those cries of hatred, that truly insane revolt: 

Oh thou, blind and insensate force, when I shall have exterminated all the creatures 
on the face of the earth I shall still be far indeed from my goal, for I shall have 
served thee, cruel master, whereas all I aspire to is to revenge myself for the 
stupidity and evil which thou makest men to experience by refusing them the means 
to indulge themselves freely in the frightful predilections which thou dost inspire in 

Therein lies the expression of a primordial and elementary feeling: to insult and outrage 
Nature is man's most deep-rooted exigency, one which is a thousand times stronger than his 
need to offend God. 

In everything we do there are nothing but idols offended and creatures insulted, but 
Nature is not among them, and it is she I should like to outrage. I should like to 
upset her plans, thwart her progress, arrest the wheeling courses of the stars, throw 
the spheres floating in space into mighty confusion, destroy what serves Nature and 
protect what is harmful to her; in a word, to insult her in her works— and this I am 
unable to do. 

And once again, in the above passage, Sade allows himself to confuse Nature with its great 
laws, and this enables him to dream of a cataclysm such that it could destroy them; but his 
logic rejects this compromise and when, elsewhere, he envisions an engineer inventing a 
machine to pulverize the universe, he is forced into the following admission: no one will have 
been more deserving of Nature than he. Sade was perfectly well aware of the fact that to 
annihilate everything is not to annihilate the world, for the world is not only universal 
affirmation but universal destruction as well, and can be represented alike by the totality of 
being and the totality of non-being. It is for this reason that the struggle with Nature 
represents, in man's history, a far more advanced dialectical stage than his struggle with God. 
We can safely state, without fear of unduly modernizing Sade's thought, that he was one of 
the first thinkers of his century to have recognized and incorporated into his world view the 
notion of transcendence: since the notion of nothingness, of non-being, belongs to the world, 
one cannot conceive of the world's non-being except from within a totality, which is still the 

If crime is the spirit of Nature, there is no crime against Nature and, consequently, there is 
no crime possible. Sade states this, at times with the most profound satisfaction, and then 
again with the deepest resentment and rage. For to deny the possibility of crime allows him 
to deny morality and God and all human values; but to deny crime is also to renounce the 
spirit of negation, to admit that this spirit can suppress itself. This is a conclusion against 
which he protests most vigorously, and one which leads him little by little to withdraw all 
reality from Nature. In the last volumes of La Nouvelle Justine, (especially in Volumes VIII 
and IX), Juliette repudiates all her previous conceptions and makes amends in the following 


Fool that I was, before we parted I was still involved with the notion of Nature, but 
the new systems which I have since adopted have removed me from her 

Nature, she says, has no more reality, no more truth or meaning than God: 

Ah, bitch, perhaps thou dost deceive me too, as in times past I was deceived by the 
vile deific chimera to which thou art, we were told, submissive; we are no more 
dependent upon thee than upon him; perhaps the causes are not essential to the 

Thus Nature disappears, although the philosopher had placed all his trust in her and although 
he would greatly have loved to make a formidable death machine of universal life. But mere 
nothingness is not his goal. What he has striven for is sovereignty, through the spirit of 
negation, carried to its extreme. Putting this negation to the test, he has alternately employed 
it on men, God, and Nature. Men, God, and Nature: the moment each of these notions comes 
in contact with negation it seems to be endowed with a certain value, but if one considers the 
experiment as a whole, these moments no longer have the slightest reality, for the 
characteristic of the experiment consists precisely in ruining and nullifying them one after 
the other. What are men, if before God they are nothing? What is God when compared to 
Nature? And what in fact is Nature, which is compelled to vanish, driven to disappear by 
man's need to outrage it? Thus the circle is closed. With man we started, we now end up with 
man. Except that he now bears a new name: he is called the Unique One, the man who is 
unique of his kind. 

Sade, having discovered that in man negation was power, claimed to base man's future on 
negation carried to the extreme. To reach this ultimate limit, he dreamed up— borrowing from 
the vocabulary of his time— a principle which, by its very ambiguity, represents a most 
ingenious choice. This principle is: Energy. Energy is, actually, a completely equivocal notion. 
It is both a reserve of forces and an expenditure of forces, both potential and kinetic, an 
affirmation which can only be wrought by means of negation, and it is the power which is 
destruction. Furthermore, it is both fact and law, axiom and value. 

One thing quite striking is that Sade, in a universe full of effervescence and passion, 
suppresses desire and deems it suspect rather than emphasizing it and raising it to the 
highest level of importance. The reason he does so is that desire denies solitude and leads to 
a dangerous acknowledgment of the world of others. But when Saint-Fond declares: 

My passions, concentrated on a single point, resemble the rays of a sun assembled 
by a magnifying glass: they immediately set fire to whatever object they find in their 


we can see very clearly why "destruction" and "power" may appear synonymous, without the 
destroyed object deriving the slightest value from this operation. This principle has another 
advantage: it assigns man a future without saddling him with any feeling of indebtedness to 
any transcendental concept. For this all honor is due Sade. He has claimed to overthrow the 
morality of Good, but despite a few provocative affirmations he has been very careful not to 
replace it with a Gospel of Evil. When he writes: "All is good when it is excessive," he can be 
reproached for the uncertainty of his principle, but he cannot be charged with wanting to 

establish the supremacy of man over the supremacy of ideas to which man would be 
subordinated. In this doctrine, no conduct is granted any special privileges: one can choose to 
do whatever one likes; the important thing is that, in doing them, one should be able to 
render coincident the maximum of destruction and the maximum of affirmation. Practically 
speaking, that is exactly what happens in Sade's novels. It is not the degree of Vice or Virtue 
that makes people happy or unhappy, but the energy they put to use, for, in Sade's words: 

Happiness is proportionate to the energy of principles; no one who drifts endlessly 
would ever be capable of experiencing it. 

Juliette, to whom Saint-Fond proposes a plan by which two-thirds of France would be 
decimated by starvation, has a moment's hesitation and is overawed at the prospect: 
immediately she is threatened. Why? Because she has shown signs of weakness, her vital 
temper is slackened, and the greater energy of Saint-Fond prepares to make her its prey. This 
is even clearer in the case of Durand. Durand is a poisoner completely incapable of the 
slightest virtue; her corruption is total. But one day the government of Venice asks her to 
disseminate the plague. The project frightens her, not because of its immoral character but 
because of the dangers she would expose herself to. Straightway she is condemned. Her 
energy failed her and she found her master; and that master is death. In leading a dangerous 
life, says Sade, what really matters is never "to lack the strength necessary to forge beyond 
the furthermost limits." One might say that this strange world is not made up of individuals, 
but of systems of vectors, of greater or lesser tensions. Wherever or whenever the tension 
falls, catastrophe inevitably ensues. Furthermore, there is no reason to distinguish between 
Nature's energy and the energy of man: luxury and lust are a kind of lightning flash, as 
lightning is the lubricity of Nature; the weak will be the victim of both and the mighty will 
emerge triumphant. Justine is struck by lightning; Juliette is not. There is nothing 
providential about this denouement. Justine's weakness attracts the same lightning which 
Juliette's energy deflects away from her. Similarly, everything that happens to Justine makes 
her unhappy, because everything that affects her diminishes her; we are told of Justine that 
her inclinations are "virtuous but base," and this must be taken in the strict sense of the 
phrase. On the contrary, everything that befalls Juliette reveals her own power to her, and 
she enjoys it as she would some increment of herself. This is why, were she to die, her death 
would carry her to the very apogee of power and exaltation, for it would enable her to 
experience total destruction as the total release of her enormous energy. 

Sade was clearly aware of the fact that the supremacy of energetic man, insofar as he 
achieves this supremacy by identifying himself with the spirit of negation, is a paradoxical 
situation. The integral man, who asserts himself completely, is also completely destroyed. He 
is the man of all passions, and he is without feeling. First he destroyed himself as man, then 
as God, and then as Nature; thus did he become the Unique Being. Now he is all-powerful, for 
the negation in him has vanquished everything. To describe his formation, Sade resorts to an 
extremely curious concept to which he gives the classical name: apathy. 

Apathy is the spirit of negation applied to the man who has chosen to make himself 
supreme. In a way, it is both the cause and the principle of energy. Sade, it would seem, 
reasons about as follows: the individual of today represents a certain quantum of force; 
generally he squanders and disperses his forces, by estranging them, to the benefit of those 
simulacra which parade under the names of "other people," "God," or "ideals." Through this 
dispersal, he makes the mistake of exhausting his possibilities, by wasting them, but what is 

worse, of basing his conduct on weakness, for if he expends himself on behalf of others it is 
because he believes he needs them as a crutch to lean upon. This is a fatal lapse: he weakens 
himself by spending his strength in vain, and he expends his energies because he deems 
himself weak. But the true man knows that he is alone, and he accepts it; everything in him 
which relates to others— to his whole seventeen centuries' heritage of cowardice— he 
repudiates and rejects: for example, pity, gratitude, and love are all sentiments he crushes 
and destroys; by destroying them, he recuperates all the strength that he would have had to 
dedicate to these debilitating impulses and, what is even more important, from this labor of 
destruction he draws the beginning of a true energy. 

It must be well understood that apathy does not only consist in ruining "parasitical" 
affections, but also in opposing the spontaneity of any passion at all. The vicious person who 
immediately abandons himself to his vice betrays a flaw that will be his undoing. Even 
debauchees of genius, perfectly endowed to become monsters if they simply content 
themselves with following their bent, will end in disaster. Sade is adamant: in order to 
convert passion into energy, it must be compressed and mediatized by passing through a 
necessary moment of insensibility, after which it will attain its apogee. During the early 
stages of her career, Juliette is constantly reprimanded by Clairwil, who reproaches her for 
committing crimes only out of enthusiasm, of lighting the torch of crime only from the torch 
of passion, and who also accuses her of valuing lust and the effervescence of pleasure above 
everything else. These are dangerous and facile tendencies. Crime matters more than lust, 
and the coldblooded, the premeditated crime is greater than the crime committed in the heat 
of passion. But most important is the somber, secret crime "committed by a conscious 
hardening of sensitivity," because it is the act of a soul which, having destroyed everything 
within itself, has accumulated an immense strength which will completely identify itself with 
the act of total destruction which it prepares. All these mighty libertines who live solely for 
pleasure are mighty only because they have eliminated in themselves all capacity for 
pleasure. This is why they resort to terrifying and hideous anomalies, for otherwise the 
mediocrity of normal pleasures would suffice for them. But they have made themselves 
insensitive: they claim to enjoy their insensibility, their rejected and annihilated sensibility, 
and they become ferocious. Cruelty is nothing more than the negation of self, carried so far 
that it is transformed into a destructive explosion; insensibility makes a tremor of the whole 
being, says Sade, and adds: 

The soul assumes a kind of apathy which is soon metamorphosed into pleasures a 
thousand times more exquisite than those which weakness and self-indulgence 
would procure for them. 

It is understandable that, in this world, principles play a major role. The libertine is 
"pensive, deeply introspective, incapable of being moved by anything whatsoever." He keeps 
to himself, cannot tolerate either noise or laughter; nothing must divert his attention; 
"apathy, unconcern, stoicism, solitude within oneself— these are the conditions he requires in 
order to attain a proper state of the soul." A transformation such as this, involving a labor of 
self-destruction, is not accomplished without the most extreme difficulty. Juliette is a kind of 
Bildungsroman, an apprentice's manual in which we gradually learn to recognize the slow 
transformation of an energetic soul. On the surface, Juliette is thoroughly depraved from the 
very start. But in reality, at that stage, she is only equipped with a few penchants, and her 
mind is yet intact; she has a tremendous effort yet to make, for, as Balzac once remarked: 

n'estpas detruit qui veut. Sade notes that there are extremely dangerous moments in this 
effort to achieve apathy. It may happen, for example, that insensibility can put the libertine 
into such a state of prostration that he may at any moment revert to morality: he believes 
himself hardened, while actually he is only weakened, a perfect prey for remorse. Now, a 
single gesture of virtue, by revalorizing the universe of man and God, is enough to bring 
down his entire power structure; however lofty he may be, that universe crumbles and, 
generally, this fall is his death. If, however, while in this state of prostration wherein he feels 
nothing more than a tasteless repugnance for the worst excesses, he finds one final 
increment of strength with which to augment this insensibility by dreaming up new excesses 
which repel him even more, then he will evolve from a state of prostration and dereliction to 
one of omnipotence, from induration and indifference to the most extreme voluptuousness 
and, "shaken to the very fiber of his being," the supreme enjoyment of the self will transport 
him a sovereign, beyond all imaginable limits. 

One of the most surprising aspects of Sade and his fate is that, although scandal has no 
better symbol than he, all that is daring and scandalous in his thinking has for so long 
remained unknown. There is no need to list and classify the themes he discovered— themes 
which the most adventurous minds of future centuries will apply themselves to developing 
and reaffirming. We have touched upon them in passing, and even so we have limited 
ourselves to depicting the main elements of his thought by stressing the basic doctrine. We 
could just as easily have discussed his concept of dreams, which he views as the work of the 
mind restored to instinct and thus delivered from the influences of waking morality. Or we 
might have dwelled upon all that part of his thinking in which he proves himself the 
precursor of Freud, as for example when he writes: 

It is in the mother's womb that are fashioned the organs which must render us 
susceptible of this or that fantasy; the first objects which we encounter, the first 
conversations we overhear, determine the pattern; do what it will, education is 
incapable of altering the pattern. 

In Sade there is also something of the traditional moralist, and it would be a simple matter to 
make a collection of his maxims which would make those of La Rochefoucauld seem weak 
and hesitant by comparison. Sade is often accused of having written badly, and, in fact, he 
often did write in extreme haste and with a prolixity that tries the patience. But he is also 
capable of a strange humor, his style reveals an icy joviality and, in its extravagance, a kind of 
cold innocence which one may find preferable to the full range of Voltaire's irony and which, 
in fact, is not to be found in the work of any other French writer. All these are exceptional 
merits, but they were in vain. Until the day when Apollinaire and Maurice Heine— and when 
Andre Breton, with his sixth, divinatory sense of the hidden forces of history— opened the 
way toward him, and even later, until the recent studies of Georges Bataille, Jean Paulhan, 
and Pierre Klossowski, Sade— the master of the great themes of modern thought and 
sensibility— continued to glitter like an empty name. Why? Because this thought is the work 
of madness, because it was molded by a depravity which the world was incapable of facing 
squarely. What is more, Sade's doctrine is presented as the theory of that depravity, a 
blueprint of his personal penchant, a doctrine which attempts to transpose the most 
repugnant anomaly into a complete Weltanschauung. For the first time, philosophy is openly 
conceived of as being the product of an illness, 3 and it has the effrontery to present as a 

logical and universal theory a system the sole guarantee for which is the personal preferences 
of an aberrant individual. 

This again is one of Sade's most important and original contributions. One may safely say 
that Sade performed his own psychoanalysis by writing a text wherein he consigns everything 
which relates to his obsessions and wherein, too, he seeks to discover what logic and what 
coherence his remarks reveal. But, what is more, he was the first to demonstrate, and 
demonstrate proudly, that from a certain personal and even monstrous form of behavior 
there could rightfully be derived a world view significant enough so that some eminent 
thinkers concerned only with the human condition were to do nothing more than to reaffirm 
its chief perspectives and provide added proof of its validity. Sade had the courage to assert 
that by fearlessly accepting the singular tastes that were his and by taking them as the point 
of departure and the very principle of all reason, he provided philosophy with the solidest 
foundation it could hope to have, and advanced himself as the means to a profound 
interpretation of human destiny taken in its entirety. Such pretension is doubtless no longer 
of a sort to terrify us, but, in all fairness, we are only beginning to take it seriously, and for a 
long while this pretension was enough to turn away from Sade's thinking even those who 
were interested in Sade. 

First of all, what was he exactly? A monstrous exception, absolutely outside the pale of 
humanity. "The unique thing about Sade," Nodier once remarked, "is his having committed a 
crime so monstrous that one could not characterize it without danger." (In a sense, this was 
one of Sade's ambitions: to be innocent by dint of culpability; to smash what is normal, once 
and for all, and smash the laws by which he could have been judged.) Another contemporary, 
Pitou, writes in a rather terrifying manner: "Justice had relegated him to a corner of the 
prison and offered every prisoner a free hand to rid the world of this burden." When, later, 
there was recognized in Sade an anomaly to be found in certain other people too, he was 
quickly and carefully sealed up inside this unnamable aberration to which, indeed, no other 
than this unique name could be applied. Even later, when this anomaly was held to reflect 
credit on Sade, when he was seen as a man free enough to have invented a new science and, 
in any event, as an exceptional man both by his destiny and his preoccupations, and when, 
finally, sadism was seen as a possibility of interest to all humanity— even then Sade's own 
thought continued to be neglected, as if there could be no doubt that there was more 
originality and authenticity in sadism than in the way in which Sade himself had been able to 
interpret it. Examining it more closely, however, we see that it is not negligible and that, 
amidst all its teeming contradictions, there emerges, on the problem which Sade's name 
illustrates, insights more significant than anything the most learned and illuminated minds 
have come up with on the subject to this day. We do not say that this philosophy is viable. 
But it does show that between the normal man who imprisons the sadistic man in an 
impasse, and the sadist who turns the impasse into a way out, it is the latter who is closer to 
the truth, who knows more about the logic of his situation and has the more profound 
understanding of it, and it is he who is in a position to be able to help the normal man to self- 
understanding, by helping him to modify the bases of all comprehension. 



June 2— In the Conde mansion on the rue de Conde, 1 in Paris, the Countess de Sade, nee 
(1712) Marie-Eleonore de Maille de Carman, lady-in-waiting to the Princess de Conde, gives 
birth to a son, during the seventh year of her marriage to Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-Francois 
(born 1702), Count de Sade, lord of the manors of Saumane and La Coste and co-lord of 
Mazan, Lieutenant-General of the provinces of Bresse, Bugey, Valromey, and Gex, then 
Ambassador from Louis XV to the Elector of Cologne. 2 

June 3— In the absence of both his godparents (his godfather being his maternal 
grandfather Donatien de Maille, Marquis de Carmen, and his godmother Louise-Aldonse 
d'Astoaud de Murs, his paternal grandmother), the infant is held out over the baptismal font 
in the parish church of Saint-Sulpice by two retainers of the Sade household. For Christian 
names he is given Donatien-Alphonse-Francois instead of those apparently intended for him, 
Louis-Aldonse-Donatien, a mishap which is to plague him with the authorities throughout 
his life, and especially under the Republic. 

1744. Aet. 4 

August J 6— The municipal council of Saumane sends its consuls and secretary to Avignon 
"to compliment My Lord the Marquis de Sade, son of the Lord Count of this place, on his 
happy arrival at Avignon and to wish him long and happy years as heir apparent " 

1745. Aet. 5 

January 24— A paternal uncle of the Marquis, Jacques-Francois-Paul-Aldonse (born at the 
chateau de Mazan on September 21, 1705), moves to the Benedictine monastery of Saint- 
Leger d'Ebreuil, to which he has been named abbot. Entrusted with the education of his 
nephew, he shares with him two homes, his residence at d'Ebreuil and another at Saumane, a 
seigneury of which he has life-long tenure. 

1750. Aet. 10 

—The Marquis returns to Paris to enter Louis le Grand College, a Jesuit school. He is 

given a personal tutor, Abbe Jacques-Francois Amblet. 3 

1754. Aet. 14 

May 24— Young Sade obtains from the genealogist Clairambault a certificate of nobility in 
order to be received into the training school attached to the Light Horse Regiment of the 
Royal Guards. 

1755. Aet. 15 

December 14— He is appointed sub-lieutenant without pay in the King's Own Infantry 

1757. Aet. 17 

January 14— The Marquis de Sade is granted a commission as Cornet (Standard Bearer) in 
the Carbine Regiment, Saint-Andre Brigade, and participates in the war against Prussia. 4 
April J— He is transferred, with the same rank, to the Malvoisin Brigade. 

1759. Aet. 19 

April 21— He is promoted to the rank of captain in the Burgundy Horse. 

1763. Aet. 23 

Late February— Sade, it would appear, is engaged to two young ladies simultaneously: 
Mademoiselle Renee-Pelagie de Montreuil and Mademoiselle Laure de Lauris. Of the two, 
Sade prefers the latter, with whom he is wildly in love, but his father is intent on arranging an 
alliance between his son and the wealthy Montreuil family, doubtless because of the 
seemingly delicate financial situation in which he then finds himself. 5 

March 15— Sade is discharged with the rank of cavalry captain, the Paris Treaty having to 
all intents and purposes ended the Seven Years' War. 

Late April— Only a scant two weeks before the date set for his marriage to Mile, de 
Montreuil, Sade is still in Avignon, trying to win the hand of Laure de Lauris, despite the fact 
that she apparently has broken off the engagement. Sade's father is angry and concerned by 
the Marquis' conduct, which is compromising the proposed alliance with the Montreuil 
family; nonetheless, young Sade appears to have been so persuasive or eloquent that the 
Count at one point consents to his marrying Lady Laure. 6 

May J— The King, the Queen, and the royal family give their consent to the proposed 
marriage between the Marquis de Sade, allied through the Maille family to the royal blood of 
the Condes, and Renee-Pelagie Cordier de Launay de Montreuil (born in Paris December 3, 
1741), eldest daughter of the President Claude-Rene de Montreuil and of Marie-Madeleine 
Masson de Plissay (married August 22, 1740). 

May 15— The marriage contract is signed by the parties in the town house of the President, 
situated rue Neuve-du-Luxembourg. The future husband signs it Louis-Aldonse-Donatien. 

May 17— The marriage is celebrated in the church of Saint-Roch. 

October 29— By order of the King, the Marquis de Sade is committed to Vincennes fortress 
for excesses committed in a brothel which he has been frequenting for a month. 

November 13— The order to free the Marquis is delivered, but the King commands him to 
withdraw to Echauffour Manor, a property owned by the Montreuils, and to remain there. 

1764. Aet. 24 

May 4— The King authorizes Sade to go to Dijon, with the provision that he remain there 
only long enough to address the Burgundy Parliament in his capacity of Lt.-General of the 
King for the provinces of Bresse, Bugey, Valromey, and Gex. 

September 11— The King completely revokes the order restricting Sade's residence to 
Echauffour Manor. 

December 7— In a report, Police Inspector Marais notes that M. de Sade is in Paris and adds 
that he (Marais) has asked La Brissualt 7 "to refrain from providing the Marquis with girls to 
go to any private chambers with him." 

1765. Aet. 25 

—Sade has taken as mistress an actress-prostitute who is the toast of all the young fops 

in Paris, Mile. Beauvoisin. 

June— July— Sade is at La Coste with Mile. Beauvoisin, passing her off as his wife's relative 
or at times even as his wife. Sade's mother-in-law, Lady Montreuil, has had wind of the affair, 
but apparently it has been kept from his wife. 

September— Sade is back in Paris, but spending more time at La Beauvoisin's house than at 
his own. His alleged reason for remaining in Paris is that he must settle his debts, which 
amount to 4500 livres. 

1766. Aet. 26 

November 4— Sade pays a M. Lestarjette the sum of two hundred livres as four and a half 
months' rent on a furnished cottage in the suburb of Arcueil. This little retreat is to be 
associated with important events in Sade's life. 

1767. Aet. 27 

January 24— Jean-Baptiste-Francois-Joseph, Count de Sade, dies at Montreuil, near 
Versailles, at the age of sixty-five, leaving his son the Marquis de Sade as his sole heir. 

April 16— The Marquis de Sade is promoted to Captain Commander in the du Mestre 
Cavalry Regiment, with orders to assemble his company without delay. Lady Montreuil's 
reaction is one of delight, for, as she notes, "it means at least a short period of peace." 

April 20— Sade leaves for Lyons to rejoin Mile, de Beauvoisin, leaving his wife, who is five 
months pregnant, in Paris. 

June 21— Debate and deliberation by the community of La Coste, which results in a 
favorable reply to the demands of the Marquis for due recognition of his rank and for a 
memorial service for his deceased father in the church. 

August 27— In the parish of the Madeleine de la Ville-l'Eveque in Paris, Louis-Marie, 
Count de Sade, the Marquis' first son is born. 

October 16— Inspector Marais reports on M. de Sade's unsuccessful attempts to induce 
Mile. Riviere of the Opera— where she is a member of the ballet— to live with him. He "has 
offered her 25 louis a month on condition that whenever she is not performing she will spend 
her time with him at his maisonette in Arcueil. The young lady has refused, but M. Sade is 
still pursuing her." 

1768. Aet. 28 

January 24— Louis-Marie de Sade is baptized in the private chapel of the Conde mansion, 
the Prince de Conde and the Princess de Conti being his godparents. 

April 3— On Easter Sunday, at about nine o'clock in the morning on the Place des Victoires, 
the Marquis de Sade accosts Rose Keller, the widow of one Valentin, a pastry cook's assistant. 
A cotton spinner by trade, out of work for a month and now reduced to begging alms, she 
accepts to accompany Sade in a cab to Arcueil. There, in his rented cottage, he orders her to 
undress, threatens her with a knife, and flogs her. He then locks her in a room from which, 
however, she shortly manages to escape. Reaching the village— it now being about four in the 
afternoon— Rose Keller encounters three local women to whom she recounts her adventure 
and exhibits her wounds. The women take her to the authorities. Her statement is recorded 8 
and she is examined at once by the village doctor, Pierre Paul Le Comte. 

April 7— Madame de Sade summons Abbe Amblet and M. Claude Antoine Sohier to her 
residence at the rue Neuve-du-Luxembourg and dispatches them to Arcueil to determine 
whether Rose Keller can be prevailed upon to drop the charge she has made to the local 
magistrate. The emissaries obtain her agreement in return for 2400 livres, plus a payment of 
seven gold louis for dressings and medication. 

April 12— Sade sets out for Saumur castle in the company of Abbe Amblet, having been 
granted the privilege of not being conducted there under police escort. 

April 15-23— Concerned by the rumors circulating, the Paris Council orders the case taken 
out of the hands of the local magistrate and transferred to those of the criminal court of La 
Tournelle, which proceeds to a thorough examination of the evidence and declares the 
accused under arrest. 

April 30— Inspector Marais appears at Saumur castle to transfer the Marquis to Pierre- 
Encise prison near Lyons, where discipline is not so lax. 

June 2— The King signs two Royal Orders, one authorizing the transfer of the Marquis to 
the Conciergerie du Palais where the High Court is to ratify the previously issued Royal 
Letters of Annulment, the other ordering his transfer back to Pierre-Encise. 

June 10 — The accused is interrogated and admits to the principal allegations, but insists 
that Rose Keller was fully aware of what would be expected of her at Arcueil. He presents the 
Letters of Annulment granted him by the King. That same day, the High Court of Paris, 

meeting in pleno, pronounces for ratification of the annulment and directs the Marquis "to 
refund the sum of one hundred livres relative to the board of prisoners in the Conciergerie du 
Palais prison." 

June 11 or 12— The Marquis is returned to Pierre-Encise. 

August— At the request of her husband, the Marquise arrives in Lyons, where she will 
remain until the Marquis recovers his freedom. 

November 16— Two Royal Orders are issued, one instructing the supervisor of Pierre- 
Encise to release Sade, the other enjoining Sade to retire to his estates at La Coste. The 
Marquise, perhaps because she is again pregnant, returns to Paris shortly after the release of 
her husband, while he proceeds to Provence as ordered. 

1769. Aet. 29 

June 27— Birth in Paris of Donatien-Claude-Armand, Chevalier de Sade, the Marquis' 
second son, who is christened the following day at the parish church of Madeleine de la Ville- 

1770. Aet. 30 

August— Sade reports to resume his military duties as a Captain Commander in the 
Burgundy Regiment. After some difficulties caused by the deputy commander of the 
regiment, who at first places Sade under arrest and forbids the quartermaster to take any 
orders whatsoever from the newly arrived captain, he is fully reinstated in his duties. 

1771. Aet. 31 

March 13— Sade applies to the Minister of War, requesting the rank of colonel, without 
stipend, which application is granted on March 19. 

April J 7— Birth in Paris of Madeleine-Laure, daughter of the Marquis de Sade. 

May 27— The Marquis, who has recently arrived in Provence, orders the public officials of 
Saumane, of which he is the lord of the manor, to do him homage. 

June J— The Marquis is authorized to draw 10,000 livres as the fee payable upon his 
cession to the Count d'Osmont of the regimental colonelcy. 

September 9— Sade leaves Fort l'Eveque prison, where he has spent a week for debts. To 
obtain his release he pays a sum of 3000 francs in cash and the remainder in a promissory 
note dated October 15. 

November 7— Sade's sister-in-law, Mademoiselle Anne-Prospere de Launay de Montreuil, 
joins the Sades at La Coste. 

1772. Aet. 32 

January 20— In the theater at La Coste, Sade presents a comedy of which he is the author. 

Mid-June— With his manservant Armand, known as Latour, Sade sets out for Marseilles 
for the purpose of collecting some monies due him. 

June 25— Having several days to spend in Marseilles, Sade sends Latour out in search of 
some girls with whom to entertain himself. 

June 27— Latour arranges a rendezvous with four girls— Marianne Laverne, Mariannette 
Laugier, Rose Coste, and Mariette Borelly— at Mariette's place at the corner of the rue des 
Capucins. The girls range in age from eighteen to twenty-three, Marianne being the youngest 
and Mariette the eldest (Sade has several times specified to Latour that he is to look for "very 
young girls"). In the course of the morning, during which Sade and Latour sequester 
themselves together with each of the girls singly, then with some jointly, the Marquis offers 
at least two of the girls some aniseed sweets, the sugar of which had been soaked with 
Spanish fly extract, or cantharides. The orgy lasts throughout the morning. That same 
evening, Sade's last in Marseilles, Latour procures him another prostitute, Marguerite Coste, 
to whom he also gives a number of the same sweets. 

June 30— The Royal Prosecutor attached to the Seneschal's Court of Marseilles is informed 
that one Marguerite Coste, after consuming an excessive number of sweets pressed upon her 
by a stranger, has been so racked with intestinal pains as to indicate that she has been 
poisoned. The Prosecutor calls for an investigation. The Lt.-General for criminal matters, 
Chomel, records Marguerite Coste's accusations, a doctor is appointed to examine her, and a 
pharmacist to analyze the matter vomited. 

July J— Mariette Borelly and the three other prostitutes make a statement to the Lt.- 
General and the Royal Prosecutor, Marianne ascribing her digestive troubles during and after 
the morning bout to the aniseed offered her by the Marquis. All four girls profess indignation 
at the attitude of the Marquis and his valet whom they accuse of "homosexual sodomy," at 
the same time claiming to have refused to accede to Sade's and Latour's "unnatural 
advances." 9 

July 4— Medical reports on Marguerite Coste and Marianne Laverne are completed and 
deposed. The Lt.-General signs the submission to the Royal Prosecutor of the ten statements 
made. The Royal Prosecutor decrees the arrest of both Sade and Latour. 

July 4 ( ?)— The Marquis, either fearing trouble or being unofficially informed of his 
impending arrest, flees from La Coste chateau accompanied by his sister-in-law, Anne. 

July 5— The pharmacists who have analyzed both the matter thrown up by Marguerite 
Coste and the uneaten candy found in Mariette Borelly's room, conclude that they have found 
no trace of arsenic, nor any corrosive sublimate in the specimens. 

July 11— Acting upon the warrant of July 4, the bailiff of Apt with three mounted men and 
a brigadier from the Constabulary, go to La Coste and are advised that Sade and Latour have 
departed a week before. Further warrants are then issued for their arrest, as are summons for 
them to appear before the court two weeks from that date. The possessions of the two 

fugitives are impounded and listed. 

Mid- July— The Marquise de Sade goes to Marseilles to appeal her husband's case before 
the magistrates. 

August 8 and 17— Marguerite Coste and Marianne Laverne appear before a Marseilles 
lawyer and drop their charges against Sade and Latour. 

August 26— The Royal Prosecutor orders special proceedings against the accused and 
missing persons and stipulates that the reexamination of witnesses shall require 

August 29— The President de Montreuil joins his daughter, the Marquise de Sade, at La 
Coste, the younger sister Anne being in flight with the Marquis. 

September 3— Final verdict: Sade and Latour, being declared contumacious and defaulting, 
are found guilty, the former of the crimes of poisoning and sodomy and the latter of the 
crime of sodomy, and are condemned to expiate their crimes at the cathedral porch before 
being taken to the Place Saint-Louis "for the said Sade to be decapitated . . . and the said 
Latour to be hanged by the neck and strangled . . . then the body of the said Sade and that of 
the said Latour to be burned and their ashes strewn to the wind." 

September 11— Judgment at the bar of the High Court of Provence (the chamber 
summoned during the summer vacation) confirms and renders executive the sentence of the 
Seneschal's Court of Marseilles. 

September 12— Sade and Latour are executed in effigy on the Place des Precheurs, in Aix. 

October 7— The Canoness, Lady Anne de Launay, returns to La Coste and remains there 
with her sister. 10 

October 27— Leaving his luggage at Nice, Sade reaches Chambery, traveling under the 
name of the Count de Mazan. With him are Latour, another footman named Carteron, and 
his sister-in-law, Lady Anne. 

Early November— After putting up for a few days at the Pomme d'Or, Sade rents a country 
house for six months, the house being outside the city gates. About the same time, having 
discovered her son-in-law's whereabouts, Lady de Montreuil prevails upon the Duke 
d'Aiguillon to ask the King of Sardinia's ambassador to issue a Royal Order "for the arrest and 
imprisonment of the Count de Mazan, a French nobleman in retreat at Chambery." 

December 8— Major de Chavanne and two adjutants, acting upon the order of His Majesty 
the King of Sardinia, Duke of Savoy, arrest Sade and Latour at Sade's Chambery residence. 

December 9— The Marquis is driven by post chaise, escorted by four cavalrymen, to the 
Fort Miolans prison, where he signs a pledge to the commander of the fort, M. de Launay, not 
to attempt to escape. Latour constitutes himself a voluntary prisoner, joining his master 
behind bars. 

December 18— A family council convening in Avignon declares before a notary public that, 
given the absence of the Marquis, the education of his children and the administration of 
their property shall be confided to the Marquise, who is appointed their guardian ad hoc. 

1773. Aet. 33 

January 1 —Commandant de Launay, in a letter to the Governor of Savoy, describes his 
prisoner as "unreliable as he is hot tempered and impulsive . . . capable of some desperate 
action" and suggests that Sade be transferred to a more secure prison. Over the ensuing 
weeks, de Launay reiterates this request and several times over disclaims responsibility for 
the security of Sade. 

March 6— The Marquise, having left Paris a week or so before, arrives by post chaise at 
Chambery, disguised in masculine clothing and accompanied by a friend and confidant, 

March 7-14— Repeated attempts by the Marquise to see her husband, which de Launay, in 
constant contact with the Governor of Savoy, steadfastly refuses. Finally giving up all hope of 
seeing her husband, Madame de Sade leaves by post chaise for Lyons. 

March 1 8— Back at La Coste, the Marquise writes both to the Count de la Tour and to the 
King of Sardinia 11 imploring each to intercede on behalf of her husband. To the latter she 
notes: "My husband is not to be classed with the rogues of whom the universe should be 

purged Bias against him has turned [a misdemeanor] into a crime," which she dismisses 

as a "youthful folly that endangered no life nor honor nor the reputation of any citizen. . . ." 

April 30— At approximately 8:30 P.M., Sade, the Baron de l'Allee (a fellow prisoner), and 
Latour climb out of the only unbarred window of the fortress and, aided by a local farmer, 
Joseph Violin, head for the French frontier. 

May J— Walking all night, the fugitives reach the village of Chapareillant by sunup, but by 
the time a search party sent out by de Launay arrives at the French border Sade is well on his 
way to Grenoble. How long he remained in Grenoble and exactly where he hid out remain 
unknown, but sometime before the end of 1773 he returns clandestinely to join his wife at La 

December 1 6— Lady de Montreuil obtains a court order to have the Marquis incarcerated 
anew in Pierre-Encise prison. 

1774. Aet. 34 

January 6— Inspector Goupil of the Paris police, armed with the court orders of December 
16 and accompanied by four bowmen and a troup of mounted constables from Marseilles, 
force their way at night into La Coste castle, but find only the Marquise. Goupil searches the 
place, and especially the Marquis' study, whose papers he confiscates or burns. 

March 25— The Minister of the Royal Household, the Duke de la Vrilliere, in transferring 
the King's orders relative to the Marquis de Sade to the Governor of Provence, suggests that it 

would be best to arrest him not under his own roof but while he is out making the rounds in 
the neighborhood. 

April 12— The Governor replies to the Duke de la Vrilliere that Sade is not at La Coste and 
promises to undertake a discreet investigation. 

July 14— At 3 :oo A.M. Lady Anne writes to the Abbe de Sade to inform him of her sudden 
departure, together with her sister, for Paris. 12 

November 17— Lady Anne, in Paris, reproaches the Abbe for not having replied to her. 
About this same date, Madame de Sade returns to La Coste, whether or not in the company of 
the Marquis is not clear. But it is clear that they had been together in Lyons, and were 
together later at La Coste. Throughout the winter the Sades remain at La Coste, seldom 
venturing abroad and seeing very few people. 

1775- Aet. 35 

January— Very little is known of the "young girls' scandal" which dates from this winter. 
On their way back from Paris in November of the preceding year, the Marquise, either alone 
or in concert with the Marquis, hired seven new servants: one was a young maid named 
Nanon, five other girls fifteen years of age, and a secretary (male) a trifle older. Some of the 
parents claimed the girls had been taken without their consent, and in January at least three 
of the parents filed a complaint. Criminal proceedings were instituted at Lyons, and the 
Marquise voyaged there to try and quash the affair. One of the girls was secretly taken to the 
Abbe de Sade and another placed in a nunnery, whence she escaped several months later. 

January 21— Sade prepares a formal refutation of the accusations made against him by the 
girl presently with his uncle and also against the accusations made by the Abbe himself. 

February 1 1— Lady de Montreuil sends the first of a long series of letters to the notary 
Gaufridy of Apt, Sade's recently appointed legal adviser. She entreats him to assume the 
responsibility for promptly returning, in person and with all guarantees, these girls to their 
parents in Lyons and Vienne, including the girl presently at the Abbe de Sade's at Saumane. 

February 15— The Marquise does not want to return the girls until they have first been 
examined by a doctor who will furnish them with an appropriate medical certificate. She begs 
the Abbe not to let the girl in his charge be seen. 

May 3— From Aix-en-Provence, the President Bruny d'Entrecastaux simultaneously 
informs the heads of both junior branches of the family, the Count de Sade-Eyguieres and 
Count Sade-Vauredone, the provost of Saint-Victor of Marseilles, that he has it firsthand that 
the Marquis de Sade is at La Coste, where he indulges in excesses of every kind with young 
people of both sexes whom he kidnaps especially from Lyons, in which city charges have been 
deposed against him. 

May 11 — Anne Sablonniere, known as Nanon, chambermaid at La Coste, gives birth at 
Courthezon to a baby girl, Anne Elizabeth, the certificate of baptism attributing the paternity 
to her husband Barthelemy Fayere, but "some people maintain it was conceived by the work 

of the Lord of the Manor." 

May 1 8— The Abbe de Sade requests the capture of his nephew, who is presently at La 
Coste, and demands that he be incarcerated as a madman. 

June 20— Alexandre de Nerclos, Prior of the Jumiege convent, informs the Abbe de Sade 
that he has lately opened his door to a young girl who has escaped from La Coste, whence 
three servants of the Marquis have come to seize her on the pretext that she had stolen forty 
livres. He turns her over to the Abbe's confidant so that he can place her under his protection 
as he has with the others from the manor. 

June 21— The Marquise brings a complaint against Nanon, charging her with the theft of 
some household silver. This is merely a maneuver to hold Nanon in check pending the arrival 
of a Royal lettre de cachet which Lady Montreuil has said was forthcoming, for the Sades now 
consider Nanon the source of all their trouble with the other girls and are apprehensive lest 
she go to Lyons and stir up the whole business again. 

June 22— The Prior de Nerclos assures the Abbe de Sade that he believes he has stifled any 
unfortunate rumors, but adds that the Marquis must be shut up for the rest of his days. He is 
also convinced that "the Marquise is no better than her husband, for he knows that no one in 
their house went to confession on Easter Sunday and Lady de Sade allows her servants to 
have dealings with a married Lutheran woman." 

July 5— The Minister of the Royal Household informs Madame de Montreuil that he has 
just issued the necessary Royal Orders for Nanon to be imprisoned at Aries. 

July 30— Nanon's daughter, Anne Elizabeth, dies at La Coste, her wet nurse, being six 
months pregnant, having no more milk. 

August— Sade is traveling incognito in Italy under the name of the Count de Mazan. In 
Florence, he steeps himself in the works of art of the Grand Duke's "superb gallery." 

September 29— The Marquis arrives in Rome. 

October 6— One of Sade's bailiffs is instructed to visit Nanon in the house of constraint at 
Aries. She threatens to kill herself if she is not set free, and relates to the bailiff "a thousand 

October 17— The Marquise thanks the Abbe for persuading the Isle-sur-Sorgue hospital to 
accept the girl he had been keeping in his charge. She agrees to pay the expenses but asks that 
the girl not be allowed to speak to anyone. 

November jo— The Abbe de Sade reports to the notary Gaufridy that the girl is completely 
well again and that he intends to take her out of the hospital and give her to the care of one of 
the Marquis' farmers in Mazan, Ripert by name, where she will be better off than at Saumane 
and less likely to talk to strangers. 

1776. Aet. 36 

End of January— The Marquis is at Naples, where the French charge d'affaires, M. 
Beranger, mistakes him for a certain M. Tessier, cashier of a Lyons store who has absconded 
with eighty thousand livres. To exculpate himself, he is obliged to reveal his real identity, 
produce supporting documents and agree to be presented at court in his colonel's uniform. 
He writes both to Gaufridy and to his wife asking whatever he would do if, because of his 
reputation, he was recognized and attacked. 

March 15— The Marquise learns that one of the girls involved in the La Coste scandal has 
left the Caderousse convent for Lyons, in the company of two young men who have come for 
her, one of whom declares he is her godfather. About the same time, Sade writes to his wife 
proposing to return to La Coste, but she dispatches Sade's valet Carteron, known as La 
Jeunesse, to Naples, to dissuade him from such a risky undertaking. 

May 4— M. de Mazan leaves Naples, and on June 1 arrives at Rome. 

End of June— Sade reaches Grenoble, via Bologne and Turin; from Grenoble he sends 
Carteron ahead to La Coste to prepare his return by mid-July. 

July 26— Sade is now at home, and rumors circulate that he has turned religious— one 
rumor even has it that he had been received by the Pope— none of which the Marquise tries to 
quash. Meanwhile, the girl placed in farmer Ripert's care also flees, but before returning to 
Vienne she spends a week at Orange making a deposition there to the local magistrate. 

November 2— Father Durand, recollect monk, is charged by Sade, who is in Montpellier, to 
find him a cook for La Coste. Catherine Trillet (or Treillet) is suggested, and the monk 
vouches to her father, a coverlet weaver, for the standing of La Coste and assures him that, as 
far as morals go, it is "like a nunnery." Her father consents, and the twenty-two-year-old 
Catherine, who is described as "very pretty," is driven to La Coste by Father Durand. 

November 4— The Marquis is back at La Coste. Money is an increasingly serious problem: 
the forty thousand livres due the Marquis as Lt.-General of Bresse are under sequester. At 
her daughter's request, Lady Montreuil sends 1200 livres not directly to her daughter but to 
the lawyer Gaufridy, with strict orders for him to spend it only on pressing domestic needs. 

Mid-December— Sade has written to Father Durand to engage four servants for La Coste. 
On December 13 or 14, there arrive a secretary named Rolland, a wigmaker, a chambermaid 
named Cavanis and a kitchenmaid "of foreign origin." The following morning three of the 
four— all but the kitchenmaid— return to Montpellier where they inform M. Trillet what has 
transpired at the manor. 13 Trillet, worried about his daughter, demands that Father Durand 
write to Sade requesting that he return Catherine to her father. 

Late December— Gaufridy receives an anonymous letter notifying him that an officer and 
ten horsemen have been ordered to go to the Ste.-Clair fair at Apt and arrest the Marquis. 
Thus forewarned, Sade avoids the fair. 

1777. Aet. 37 

January 14— Marie-Eleonore de Maille de Carman, Dowager Countess de Sade, dies at the 

Carmelite convent in the rue Enfer in Paris, aged sixty-five. 

January 17— Toward one o'clock M. Trillet comes to La Coste to claim his daughter, who is 
known in the chateau as Justine. During an argument with the Marquis, Trillet fires a pistol 
shot at him almost point blank, but misses. He runs off to the La Coste township where he 
babbles about what has happened. At about five o'clock Catherine sends someone to find her 
father, who returns to the chateau. There she tries to calm him, but Trillet, who has brought 
four other men back with him, flies into another rage and fires a second shot into a courtyard 
where he thinks Sade to be. All five men then flee. 

January 1 8— The junior magistrate at La Coste, learning of the attempted murder the 
previous day, begins to hear witnesses. 

January 20— Trillet leaves La Coste, after professing to Messrs. Paulet and Vidal that he 
feels "the sincerest emotions of friendship and attachment for the Marquis." 

Late January— In Aix, Trillet enters a charge, backed by a statement outlining what had 
transpired a month before at La Coste with the newly hired servants. Upon their return to 
Montpellier, according to Trillet, the three domestics had told him that the Marquis had, 
during the night, "tried to have his way with them by offering them a purse of silver." His 
decision to take back his daughter, Trillet adds, was reinforced by the fact that the superior of 
Father Durand's monastery, having learned of the affair, expelled Durand from the 
monastery. In his denial, Sade claims that he never asked Father Durand to hire these 
servants for him, having no need of them, and that it was for this reason he had them 
returned the following day to Montpellier. Sade adds that he found all "these people 
frightfully prepossessing" and notes that one would have to be an "arch fool" to have 
aggravated "their ill humor brought about by their pointless trip" by trying to "outrage them 
during the night." Moreover, he notes, how could he have tried to bribe them with money, 
since he had none? 

January 30— The Attorney General of Aix makes known, through the intermediary of the 
Aix lawyer Mouret, his opinion as to the Trillet affair, which is that the father should be given 
immediate satisfaction. After so many other imperfectly quashed affairs, the consequences of 
the present one might become most serious. 

February 1— Sade, en route for Paris, 14 reaches Tain, near Valence. Sade is traveling with 
La Jeunesse, while the Marquise is with Catherine Trillet, who has begged Madame to take 
her along and not send her back to Montpellier. 

February 8— The Sades reach Paris and learn of the Dowager Countess' death in mid- 
January. Sade puts up at his former tutor's, Abbe Amblet, who gives him a warm reception. 

February 10 or 12— Madame de Sade decides that the time has come for her to inform her 
mother that her husband is in Paris. 

February 13— The Marquis de Sade is arrested by Inspector Marais at the Hotel de 
Danemark on the rue Jacob and taken to Vincennes fortress where, at 9:30 that night, he is 
formally entered as a prisoner. 

Late February— Sade writes his wife his first letter as a prisoner (she still does not know in 
which prison he has been incarcerated): "I feel it completely impossible to long endure a 

condition so cruel. I am overwhelmed with despair My blood is too hot to bear such 

terrible restriction If I am not released in four days, I shall crack my skull against these 

walls." All Lady Sade's applications to see her husband are denied. 

April 1 8— Sade to his wife: "I am in a tower closed in by nineteen iron doors, with light 
reaching me only through two little windows, each with a score of iron bars." He complains 
that in over the two months he has been in prison he has been allowed only five walks of one 
hour each, "in a sort of tomb about forty feet square surrounded by walls more than fifty feet 

June 24— Madame de Sade is now aware that her husband is being held at Vincennes. 

September 1— Sade, in a letter to his wife, expresses the horror of his situation and says 
that, before experiencing it, he would never have believed it. Such cages should be reserved 
for savage beasts, he notes, not for human beings. 

September 23 and 24— Both Lady de Montreuil and Lady de Sade write to the Minister of 
the Royal Household in favor of the quashing of the sentence of 1772 and requesting that this 
be formally submitted to the King in his Council of Dispatches of the 26th inst. 

1778. Aet. 38 

Early February— N anon is set free, on condition that she not come within three leagues of 
Lyons or Vienne. 

April 30— Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-David, Comte de Sade d'Eyguieres, obtains from the King 
the post of Lt.-General of the provinces of Bresse, Bugey, Valromey and Gex formerly held by 
the Marquis de Sade, which has been in suspense for the past five years. 

May 23— Faced with the choice of having recourse to the plea of insanity or of personally 
appearing before the High Court of Provence (in connection with the Marseilles affair of 
1772), Sade opts for the second choice. 

May 27— The King grants the Marquis de Sade papers of ester a droit to appeal the 
sentence of the High Court of Provence, despite the expiration of the legal period of five 

June 14— Escorted by Inspector Marais, Sade leaves Vincennes to journey to Aix, arriving 
there on the evening of Saturday, June 20. 

June 30— A crowd of 200 gathers at the door of the Jacobin monastery where the High 
Court holds its sessions, in anticipation of seeing the Marquis de Sade, but the prisoner both 
arrives and departs in a sedan chair with curtains drawn, thus thwarting their curiosity. 
Plaintiffs Counsel Joseph-Jerome Simeon and the Royal Attorney, General d'Eymar de 
Montmeyan, both speak eloquently in Sade's behalf, and the Court, after deliberation, 
declares the Marseilles trial null and void for absolute lack of evidence of any poisoning. The 

Court also orders a new investigation of the allegations of libertinage and pederasty alone, 
and the hearing of witnesses. 

July 7-10— Cross-examination of Sade. The following day the Court issues a decision 
ordering a special trial. On July 10 there is a re-examination of the witnesses and 
confrontation with the accused. 

July 14— The Marquis is cross-examined publicly in the High Court chambers, returning 
shortly thereafter for the judgment, which finds Sade guilty of acts of debauch and excessive 
libertinage. The Court orders that "Louis-Aldonse-Donatien de Sade be admonished behind 
the bench in the presence of the Attorney General in future to be of more seemly conduct," 
and prohibits him "to live in or frequent the city of Marseilles for three years." Further, he is 
condemned to pay fifty livres applicable to the prison fund and the cost of justice. 

July 15— Sade leaves Aix, escorted by Marais, Marais' younger brother Antoine and two 
junior guards, on his way back to Vincennes where, in spite of his legal victory, he is still a 
prisoner of the King's by virtue of the lettre de cachet of February 13, 1777. 

July 16— At Valence, where the party has stopped at an inn overnight, the Marquis makes 
his escape. In spite of a thorough search of the immediate vicinity, no trace is found of Sade, 
who described what happened in his "Story of My Imprisonment": "I had taken refuge about 
half a mile out of town in a shanty near a farmer's threshing floor. Then two local 
countrymen guided me. We first went toward Montelimar, but after a league we changed our 
minds and returned to the Rhone, intending to cross it, but we could not find a boat. Finally, 
just as day was breaking, one of us crossed the river to Vivarais where he found a boat that 
was suitable and this, for a louis, took me down to Avignon." At Avignon, Sade goes to a 
friend's house, has supper, and orders a carriage to take him that same night to La Coste. 

July 1 8— Sade reaches La Coste, where he spends a quiet month, with Mile. Dorothee de 
Rousset acting as housekeeper. 

July 27— Madame de Sade has only recently learned from her mother of the verdict of the 
High Court of Aix (but she has not yet learned of Sade's escape). Upon being informed that 
her husband, although cleared at Aix, must nevertheless return to his cell at Vincennes, she 
"completely loses control of herself in the course of a terrible scene with her mother. 

August 19— Warned of the presence of suspicious characters in the region, the Marquis 
takes to hiding out at various places in the neighborhood of La Coste. 

August 23— Sade, in spite of strong pleas by his friend Canon Vidal, returns to take up 
residence at La Coste. 

August 26— At 4:00 A.M. the door to Sade's chamber is forced by a group of armed men, 
whose leader covers the culprit, before witnesses, with the foulest insults. 

September 7— After thirteen days' travel by post chaise then further travel by stage coach, 
Sade arrives at 8:30 P.M. at Vincennes, where he is locked in cell No. 6. 

November 6— Mile, de Rousset arrives in Paris to stay with the Marquise. 

December 7— After three months' solitary confinement, Sade is allowed to have pen and 
paper and to write as he please, and is given permission to take exercise twice a week. 

1779. Aet. 39 

January— Sade sends season's greetings in verse to Mile, de Rousset, whom he now 
addresses as "Saint" Rousset, because of her boundless goodness toward him. 

March 29— Sade's exercise periods are increased to three a week. 

July 15— He now enjoys five exercise periods a week. 

November 9— Mile, de Rousset, to whom Sade has been writing letters full of unjust 
reproaches and complaints, breaks off her correspondence with him, although she remains 
devoted to him and continues her unflagging efforts on his behalf. 

1780. Aet. 40 

April 21— Sade is visited by M. Le Noir 15 who informs him that he will soon be permitted to 
receive a visit from his wife. 

April 25— Sade's exercise periods become daily. 

June 26— An altercation with a jailer, whom Sade maintains was extremely insolent to him, 
results in the suspension of his daily exercise periods. 

June 28— The Captain of the Guard, M. de Valage, who comes to inform the prisoner 
officially of the suppression of his walks, is threatened and berated by Sade. According to the 
report of the warden, M. de Rougemont, 16 Sade then begins to shout at the top of his voice 
trying to arouse the other prisoners. Spying a fellow prisoner whom he detested, Mirabeau, 
down below in the prison yard taking exercise, Sade shouts at him out of his cell window, 
calling him the Commandant's (i.e. de Rougemont's) catamite, blaming him for his, Sade's, 
being deprived of his walks, suggesting he might go kiss the warden's ass. Sade dares him to 
answer, adding for good measure that he intends, once free, to lop off Mirabeau's ears. To 
which Mirabeau replies: "My name is that of a man of honor who has never either dissected 
or poisoned any women, a man who will be only too pleased to write his name on your 
shoulders with a razor, if only you're not broken on the wheel before I have a chance to do so, 
a man you inspire with one fear only, and that is that you might put him in mourning a la 
Greve." (The square where executions are then taking place.) 

July 24— The motives for holding Sade prisoner are debated at Versailles, and the First 
Minister orders that all information relating to the Marquis' case be gathered and given him 
for examination. 

December 13— Mirabeau, leaving Vincennes prison, endorses his official discharge on the 
back of the record of Sade's arrival there on February 13, 1777. 

1781. Aet. 41 

March 9— After thirty-six weeks, the prisoner's exercise periods are restored. 

May 10 — Lady Anne de Launay, Sade's sister-in-law, falls ill with smallpox, the first signs 
of the disease appearing this Thursday evening. 

May 13— Lady Anne dies at 1:00 P.M. 

June— Mile, de Rousset is back at La Coste, where she once again corresponds with the 

July 13— Sade receives his first visit from his wife, after a separation of four years and five 
months. They are allowed to meet only in the presence of a witness. 

Early October— -M. Le Noir suspends the visits of the Marquise because of the violent 
attacks of husbandly jealousy to which Sade was subject. To counter Sade's suspicions— most 
probably completely without foundation— Lady de Sade moves from her apartment on the rue 
de la Marche and withdraws into the convent of Sainte-Aure. 

1782. Aet. 42 

July 12— Sade completes the manuscript of his Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying 

August 6— Sade is deprived of all books because they "overheated his head" and led him to 
write "unseemly things." 

September 25— Resumed after January, the Marquise's rare visits are again suspended 
because of the prisoner's poor conduct. 

1783. Aet. 43 

February— Sade, suffering from eye trouble, is treated by the oculist Grandjean. 

April J— Madame de Sade informs her husband of the marriage of her younger sister, 
Francoise-Pelagie, born October 12, 1760, to the Marquis de Wavrin, the wedding having 
taken place toward the end of January. 

—Louis-Marie de Sade, the Marquis' eldest son, is named sub-lieutenant in the Rohan- 

Soubise Regiment. Sade, wanting him to wear the same cavalry uniform he had worn, is 
furious and writes his wife, categorically objecting to the appointment. 

1784. Aet. 44 

January 25— Mile, de Rousset, who has long been suffering from tuberculosis, dies at La 
Coste, aged forty years and nineteen days. 

February 29— Excerpt from the Repertoire ou Journalier du chateau de la Bastille: "M. 

Surbois, inspector of police, has taken the Marquis de Sade from Vincennes at nine o'clock in 
the evening. The Royal Order, counter signed by Breteuil, is dated January 31: he is lodged in 
second Liberty." 17 

March 3— M. Le Noir writes to the Governor of the Bastille recommending that Sade, like 
two other noblemen recently transferred from Vincennes to the Bastille, be allowed to take 
periodic walks at the latter prison. 

March 8— Sade, in a letter to his wife, complains of conditions at the Bastille, maintaining 
they are far worse than at Vincennes. 

March J 6— Madame de Sade pays her first visit to the Bastille, bringing him six pounds of 
candles. She is allowed to visit him twice monthly. 

July 16— Le Noir authorizes Grandjean, the oculist, to attend to the Marquis. 

1785. Aet. 45 

October 22— The Marquis begins the final revision of his draft of a major work, The 120 
Days of Sodom or The School for Libertines. 

November 12— In twenty evenings of work, between seven and ten, he covers one side of a 
twelve-meter-long roll of paper which he has prepared for this purpose. 

November 28— After thirty-seven days of work Sade completes the second side of the 
famous manuscript of The 120 Days in the form in which it has come down to us. 

—Cardinal de Rohan is imprisoned in the Bastille. The presence of the Church 

dignitary stops all private visits to all prisoners. 

1786. Aet. 46 

July 13— Madame de Sade's visits, at the rate of one a month, are reinstated. 

1787. Aet. 47 

May 23— The prisoner, who hitherto has been allowed a one-hour walk only every second 
day, is now provisionally given an hour's walk daily. 

May 25— Madame de Sade writes to Gaufridy that M. Sade is in fair health but getting 
"very fat." 

June 21— A simple decree of the Chatelet in Paris provides for the administration of the 
properties of the Marquis de Sade, he "being absent for the past ten years." 

July 8— Sade completes Les Infortunes de la Vertu, a philosophical story 138 pages long 
which he wrote in two weeks, in spite of the fact that, as he pencils in the margin of the last 
page, "All the time I was writing this my eyes bothered me." 

October 7— Owing to the arrival of a prisoner just as he was supposed to begin his walk, 
Sade's exercise hour is suspended, and he has what the official report describes as a "violent 
outburst." 18 

October 10— Sade berates the Governor and his aide who come to announce to him the 
suspension of his exercise periods. 

October 23— Sade's exercise right is restored. 

1788. Aet. 48 

March J— Sade begins work upon his short novel Eugenie de Franval, which he completes 
in six days. 

June 5— Sade's exercise period again having been suspended "for impertinence" and he 
having so been informed in writing, the prisoner nonetheless attempts to descend at his 
regular hour to the yard and, according to de Losme, "it was only when the officer [stationed 
at his door] pointed his gun at him that he retreated, swearing loudly." 

October 1— Sade draws up the Catalogue raisonne of his writings. By now, apart from his 
clandestine works, he has the contents of fifteen octavo volumes. 

Octobei — At Madame de Sade's request, the Lt.-General of police authorizes the prisoner 
to read magazines and newspapers. 

1789. Aet. 49 

January -June— Authorized on November 24 of the preceding year to visit her husband 
weekly rather than bi-weekly, Madame de Sade pays her husband twenty-three visits during 
the first half of 1789. 

July 2— The Bastille logbook notes that "The Count de Sade 19 shouted several times from 
the window of the Bastille that the prisoners were being slaughtered and that the people 
should come to liberate them." 

July 4— At 1:00 A.M., as a result of a report made to Lord de Villedeuil on the Marquis' 
conduct on July 2, he is transferred to Charenton Asylum by Inspector Quidor. 20 

July 9— Sade signs the authorization requested by Commissaire Chenot to have his Bastille 
cell, which was placed under seals on July 4, opened in the presence of his emissary, Madame 
de Sade. 

July 14— Awakened by the quickening pace of events, Madame de Sade, who has not yet 
carried out her commission relative to Sade's personal belongings left behind in the Bastille, 
sends her authorization to Commissaire Chenot and then leaves town for the country. The 
Bastille is stormed and Sade's cell sacked, his furniture, his suits and linen, his library and, 
most important, his manuscripts, are "burned, pillaged, torn up and carried off." 

July 19— Madame de Sade informs Commissaire Chenot that, for personal reasons, she 
cannot consider herself responsible for the papers and effects of the Marquis de Sade. 

October 5— Madame de Sade escapes from Paris, accompanied by her daughter and a maid, 
to avoid being "dragged out by the women of the lower classes who are forcing all the women 
in the town houses to march with them through the rain and mud to Versailles to seize the 
King." She then relates that the King has been brought from Versailles to Paris, "the heads of 
his two bodyguards set on pikes before him," and that "Paris is in a state of intoxication." 

1790. Aet. 50 

March 13— The Constituent Assembly adopts a projected decree concerning the lettres de 
cachet stipulating that all prisoners detained by such Royal Orders will be released save for 
those condemned to death, indicted or judged insane. 

March 18— Sade is visited at Charenton by his two sons, whom he has not seen in fifteen 
years and who have come to inform him of the decree of the Assembly. 

April 2— On this day, Good Friday, Sade recovers his liberty and leaves Charenton, without 
a penny. He goes directly to see the man who is handling his affairs, M. de Milly, attorney at 
the Chatelet Court, who provides him with a bed to sleep in and six louis. 

April 3— Madame de Sade, a resident of the convent of Sainte-Aure, refuses to see her 
husband from whom she has decided to separate. 

April 28— Madame de Sade formally applies to the Chatelet Court for a separation order. 
Sade, who claims he has already seen her attitude changing toward him, tends to blame it 
upon the influence of her Father Confessor. 

June 9— The Chatelet Court issues a separation order and instructs the Marquis de Sade to 
restore to his wife 160,842 livres received as marriage settlement. 

July J— Sade obtains an identity card as "an active citizen" of the Place Vendome Section, 
later to be known as the Piques Section. 

August 3— The Theatre Italien accepts his one-act verse play, Le Suborneur. 

August 17— Sade gives a reading at the Comedie-Francaise of his one-act play in free verse, 
Le Boudoir ou le mari credule. A week later the play is rejected, but a second reading agreed 
to, providing the author makes some changes. 

August 25— Sade forms a liaison with a young actress, Marie-Constance Renelle, her 
husband Balthazar Quesnet having deserted her and left her with their one child. This liaison, 
which Sade will describe many times as "less than platonic," but founded on mutual love and 
attachment, will last the rest of his life. 21 

September 16— Sade's five-act play, Le Misanthrope par amour ou Sophie et Desfrancs, is 
"unanimously accepted" by the Comedie-Frangaise. 

November 1— Sade moves into a house with garden at No. 20, rue Neuve-des-Mathurins, 
off the Chaussee d'Antin. 

1791. Aet. 51 

March 5— Sade writes to Reinaud telling him that he will send the four volumes of his 
novel, Aline et Valcour, which are to be printed by Easter. He also remarks that he now has 
five plays accepted by various theaters. 

June 12— Sade notes, in a letter to Reinaud, that his novel Justine ou les Malheurs de la 
Vertu is being printed, adding that it is "too immoral a work for so religious and modest a 
man as yourself." 

October 22— First performance, at the Theatre Moliere on the rue Saint-Martin, of Sade's 
Le Comte Oxtiern ou les effets du libertinage. A second performance is given two weeks later, 
on November 4, which gives rise to a disturbance and causes Sade to suspend further 

November 24— Sade gives a reading to the Comedie-Francaise of his Jeanne Laisne ou le 
Siege de Beauvais, which is rejected by an eight-to-five vote. 

1792. Aet. 52 

March 5— At the Theatre Italien, a Jacobin cabal, all wearing red bonnets with the point 
forward, makes so much noise that Le Suborneur cannot be completed and the performance 
is halted after the fourth scene. The reason given for the demonstration: the author was an 

May— Sub-Lieutenant Donatien-Claude-Armand de Sade, aide-de-camp of the Marquis de 
Toulongeon, deserts. 

August 1 8— Sade solemnly disavows his sons' emigration, a necessary step taken to save 
himself, the Republic having issued a decree making parents responsible for the actions of 
their children. 

September 3— During the massacres, 22 Sade is for the first time the secretary of his section. 

September 17-21— A crowd of people from La Coste— men, women and children— force their 
way into the chateau and ransack it, destroying or carting away most of the furniture. The 
municipal guard is helpless to cope with the mob, but the municipality does its best to save 
what remains of Sade's furniture and effects and has them housed in the vicarage, until they 
are carted away a week later by two bailiffs from Apt who arrive with a requisition order and 
abuse their limited authority to load all pieces of value onto four wagons, over the protests of 
the La Coste municipal council. 

October 17— Sade is a soldier in the 8th Company of the Piques Section and commissaire 
for the organization of the cavalry in that section. 

October— Sade in possession of the first copies of his political pamphlet Idees sur le mode 
de la sanction des Loix, which is published by his own section and sent to the other forty- 
seven sections of Paris for their study and opinion. 

November 4— Sade is called by the Piques Section to do twenty-four hours' guard duty 
commencing at 9 : 00 A.M. 

December 13— Under the name Louis-Alphonse-Donatien Sade, the Marquis' name is 
entered— whether by error or willful malice— on the list of emigres of the Bouches-du-Rhone 

1793. Aet. 53 

January 21— "Louis Capet, thirty-nine, profession: last King of the French" is guillotined 
on the Place de la Revolution at 10:22 A.M. 

February 26— Together with Citizens Carre and Desormeaux, Sade signs the report he has 
drawn up concerning their inspection of five hospitals which the Hospital Commission had 
entrusted them with on January 17. 

April 13— In a letter to Gaufridy, Sade announces that he has been appointed court 
assessor. "I have two items of news which will surprise you. Lord Montreuil has been to see 
me! 23 And guess the other! I would give you a hundred guesses! I am appointed magistrate, 
yes, magistrate! By the prosecution! Who, my dear lawyer, would have told you that fifteen 
years back? You see how wise my old head is becoming in its old age " 

June 15— Citizen Sade, secretary of the assembly of the sections of Paris, is appointed one 
of the four delegates who the following day are to present an address to the Convention 
calling for an annulment of the decree which established a Parisian army of six thousand 
men at forty sous a day. 

June 26— A new department, the Vaucluse, is created out of the former Bouches-du-Rhone 
department, but in submitting the list of emigres to the new department Sade's name, which 
has been ordered from the list, still appears there, a fact which is later to have grave 
consequences for him. 

July 23— Sade has been appointed chairman of the Piques Section, and he announces the 
news with elation to Gaufridy. 

August 2— At a stormy session of the Piques Section, Sade gives up the chair to the vice- 
chairman, refusing to act as chairman for a proposal he deems "horrible . . . utterly inhuman." 

September 29— The General Assembly of the Piques Section, "approving the principles and 
vigor" of Sade's pamphlet entitled Discours aux manes de Marat et de Le Peletier, decides to 
print it and send it to the National Assembly. 

November 15 (25 Brumaire, Year II)— Sade is the leader of seven other delegates who 
appear before the bar of the National Convention to read the Petition of the Piques Section to 

the Representatives of the French People, of which Sade is the author. 24 

December 8 (18 Frimaire, Year II)— A warrant is issued for Sade's arrest based on a letter 
Sade had written two years earlier, and he is arrested at his house on the rue Neuve-des- 
Mathurins and taken to Madelonnettes prison. 25 

1794- Aet. 54 

January 13 (23 Nivose, Year II)— The police department of Paris orders the transfer of the 
prisoner Sade to the Carmelite convent on the rue de Vaugirard. 26 

January 22 (3 Pluviose, Year II)— By order of the police department dated 1 Pluviose, Sade 
is transferred to the Saint-Lazare prison. 27 

February 12 (24 Pluviose, Year II)— Sade's name is again (by error?) placed on the list of 
emigres, under the Christian names of Louis-Alphonse-Donatien, with the mention 
"Vaucluse, Apt, December 13, 1793." 

March 8 (18 Ventose, Year II)— Sade submits a report in his defense to the Committee of 
Public Safety defending his conduct since 1789. In it he maintains he was overjoyed when the 
King ("the most immoral rascal and the most outrageous tyrant") was beheaded and draws 
attention to his many activities and increasing responsibility in the Piques Section. 28 He 
further denies that he or his family before him were ever aristocrats, claiming they were 
either in business or cultivating the land. 

n A IT in ResfPm At fir*"'*? 
■gUt* P*™Ji*U it SJINT SULFICE, 

~tti Apt 

~Ja. + <.J L 

* m.t^rmf *'i '-w„ 1 i. Arr*A iimfty p~1 

*;< £ -r~+ - f***t *• /. — 3 

/ ' " /•'•< /." A ,77... At' ■M^r-^y 

, 3 iW^vrt^C-j r*r-A-* 

Ctiitaami i tOnrmti, fat muiftufglU, 

' . Fieun A Uditt Fanjfi, A Paw, ct 

Copy of Sade's certificate of baptism, taken from the records of the Paris Church of Saint- 
Sulpice, Paris, dated 3 June, 1740. (COURTESY MUSEE CALVET, AVIGNON) 

Above: The ruins of La Coste chateau, as it looks today, with the village grouped below it. 
Below: A closer view of the chateau. (PHOTOS BY ALAIN RESNAIS) 

Two details of the ruins of La Coste chateau. (PHOTOS BY ALAIN RESNAIS) 

Frontispiece to Volume IV of the original edition of Les Crimes de VAmour, which contained 

Eugenie de Franval. 


D £ 


hT T R A G lQll ES, 

P/««dri<Tiine lok* sum mi Homaks, 
ct oni& de gravurct. 

P±a D- A. f. SADE , «L«.r 4'ALUc ci V.ko.r. 

Title page of the original edition of Les Crimes de I'Amour. 

Letter of 11 October, 1782, from Madame de Sade to Mademoiselle de Rousset, who is at La 
Coste, but increasingly wary of remaining in the chateau, which is in such a state of disrepair 
that the high winds are threatening to reduce it to ruins. Madame de Sade is worried about 

the safety of certain papers at La Coste, and her letter expresses her concern. (COLLECTION 


, fa**** 

^^^^^ 1 

55*. u* ■* ' ,jr * ** i.^— t /^>-^ *** 

A letter of 3 VentoseAn VIII (February 22, 1800), from Sade to La Citoyenne demoiselle 
Archias, Maison du Citoyen Gauffridi, homme de loi a Apt, which begins: "Knowing your 
pious and sensitive soul, Mademoiselle, I address myself to you with confidence and enjoin 

you to urge M. Gauffridi to come to my aid I shall relate the facts to you, hoping they will 

touch a heart as humane and compassionate as yours " See the Chronology, entry of 

February 20, 1800. (COLLECTION R. SEAVER) 

Copy of the order issued 18 October, 1810, by the Count de Montalivet, Minister of the 
Interior, effectively isolating Sade from all contact with other inmates at the Charenton 
asylum, and also forbidding him all access to writing materials. See the Chronology, entry for 

March 27 (7 Germinal, Year II)— For reasons of illness, Sade is transferred to Picpus 
Hospice, a prison hospital only recently opened. 29 

July 27 (9 Thermidor, Year II)— Sade's name appears eleventh on a list of twenty-eight 
prisoners to be brought to trial. For some reason not wholly explained, the court bailiff fails 
to take Sade and returns with only twenty-three of the twenty-eight. All but two are 
guillotined the same day on a square only a few hundred yards from the Picpus prison where 
Sade was held. 30 

July 28 (10 Thermidor, Year II)— Beginning at 7:30 P.M., Robespierre and twenty-two 
other terrorists are executed; thunderous cheering from the crowd. 

October 13 (22 Vendemiaire, Year III)— The Committee of General Safety signs the order 
freeing Citizen Sade immediately. 

October 15 (24 Vendemiaire, Year III)— After 312 days of detention, Sade is released and 
authorized, in spite of his being a former nobleman and in view of his patriotic work, to 
reside in his house on the rue Neuve-des-Mathurins. 

1795- Aet. 55 

January (Nivose-Pluviose, Year III)— Death of the former President de Montreuil about 
six months after his release from the prison where he and his wife had been kept during the 
Reign of Terror. 

May (Floreal-Prairial, Year III)— Sade's son, Louis-Marie, is back in Paris. Since neither he 
nor his brother has ever appeared on any list of emigres, a story is concocted according to 
which Louis has been traveling through France studying botany and gravure; as for Donatien- 
Claude-Armand, he is in Malta where he is on duty with a foreign power allied to France. 

1796. Aet. 56 

October 13 (22 Vendemiaire, Year V)— Sade sells La Coste, "both buildings and furniture," 
to the representatives of M. and Mme. Rovere for 58,400 livres, which sum will never be paid 
to him in its entirety. 

October (Vendemiaire, Year V)— Sade is living in the town of Clichy. 

December 1 (11 Frimaire, Year V)— Sade gives as his new address the house of Citizeness 
Quesnet, 3, Place de la Liberte in Saint-Ouen. 

1797. Aet. 57 

May-June (Floreal-Prairial, Year V)— Sade, together with Mme. Quesnet, visits Provence, 
paying calls on Gaufridy in Apt, and going to La Coste, Bonnieux and Mazan. 

October (Brumaire, Year VI)— Sade and Mme. Quesnet return to Saint-Ouen. 

November (Brumaire, Year VI)— Having learned that he is listed in Vaucluse as an emigre 
and thus not only liable to arrest but subject to having his property and possessions 
confiscated, Sade sets about filing a protest with the police, complete with substantial 

1798. Aet. 58 

September 10 (24 Fructidor, Year VI)— Sade and Mme. Quesnet are, for lack of funds, 
compelled to leave Saint-Ouen: she puts up with friends and he finds refuge in Beauce with 
one of his farmers. 

November (Brumaire, Year VII)— The sellers of the properties at Malmaison and 
Granvilliers, which Sade has purchased with money realized from the sale of La Coste, having 
not yet been paid in full, secure an injunction on the transfer of said properties. Sade's farmer 
thus refuses to lodge him any longer, and he is obliged to move from place to place, wherever 
he can find a bed or a meal. 

1799. Aet. 59 

January 24 (5 Pluviose, Year VII)— Sade goes to live with Mme. Quesnet's son for the 
winter, their residence being an unheated attic. 31 

February 13 (25 Pluviose, Year VII)— Sade earns forty sous a day working as an employee 
in a Versailles theater, with which miserable sum he is supporting not only himself but 
"feeding and raising" Madame Quesnet's son. 

June 28 (10 Messidor, Year VII)— A decree forbidding the names of ex-nobles to be 
stricken from the list of emigres reduces Sade to despair: "Death and misery, this then is the 
recompense I receive for my everlasting devotion to the Republic." 

August 5 (18 Thermidor, Year VII)— The municipal administration of the canton of Clichy 
issues Sade a certificate of residence and citizenship, countersigned by Commissioner Cazade, 
who is in charge of his security. 

December 10 (lg Frimaire, Year VIII)— Following the example of the Vaucluse authorities, 
who had earlier lifted the sequester on Sade's properties, the Bouches-du-Rhone department 
does likewise. 

December 13 (22 Frimaire, Year VIII)— Revival of Sade's play Oxtiern ou les malheurs du 
libertinage on the stage of the Societe Dramatique of Versailles, the author playing the role of 
Fabrice. This is the same play performed eight years earlier at the Theatre Moliere, but Sade 
slightly revised the title. 

1800. Aet. 60 

January 26 (6 Pluviose, Year VIII)— Sade is in the public infirmary of Versailles, "dying of 
cold and hunger" as he writes Gaufridy in an attempt to elicit some money from him. 

February 20 (1 Ventose, Year VIII)— Commissioner Cazade comes to Versailles to inform 
Madame Quesnet and Sade that two bailiffs men at twelve francs a day have been placed in 
their Saint-Ouen house, since they had failed to make their payments. That same day Sade is 
threatened with debtors' prison if he fails to pay two outstanding bills before the 9 Ventose. 
Fortunately for Sade, Cazade is most helpful and solicitous, and maintains that since Sade is 
in his care, he cannot be taken to jail unless he, Cazade, takes him. 

April 5 (15 Germinal, Year VIII)— Sade is back at Saint-Ouen, and Commissioner Cazade 
writes to Gaufridy, whose indifferent manner of running Sade's business affairs and his 
slowness in replying to letters is characterized as criminal by the Marquis. 

May (Floreal-Prairial, Year VIII)— Sade has previously accused Gaufridy of accepting 
bribes and threatened him with legal action. Gaufridy now resigns his post as Sade's steward. 

June (Prairial-Messidor, Year VIII)— Mme. Quesnet, armed with legal powers to inspect 
the Sade estates and examine his accounts, goes to Provence to investigate the situation. "It is 
impossible, after thirty years of stewardship, for things to be in more of a mess." 

July (Messidor, Year VIII)— The publication of Zoloe, a pamphlet, unsigned, attacking 
Josephine, Mmes. Tallien, and Visconti, Bonaparte, Tallien and Barras. It was long thought 
that Sade was the author of Zoloe, and this pamphlet has often been cited as the reason for 
Sade's arrest in 1801. It has now been clearly established that Sade was not the author. 

October 22 (30 Vendemiaire, Year IX)— In the Journal de Paris, an article by the critic 
Villeterque appears, violently attacking Sade's Les Crimes de VAmour, which has just been 
published. In the article Villeterque refers to Sade as the author of Justine. 

1801. Aet. 61 

January 16 (26 Nivose, Year IX)— The Minister of Police issues a certificate of amnesty 
making it possible to raise the sequester on Sade's property. 32 

March 6 (15 Ventose, Year IX)— Sade, along with his publisher Nicolas Masse, is arrested 
in the latter's office, Sade just happening to be there when the police arrive. They make a 
search of Masse's premises and find various manuscripts and printed works either in Sade's 
hand or, in the case of the printed works, annotated by him, including Juliette and La 
Nouvelle Justine. Simultaneously, two other searches are made, one at the house of a friend 
of Sade's, which uncovers nothing, and the other at the house in Saint-Ouen where Sade 
possesses a secret study where there was hung a piece of tapestry depicting "the most 
obscene subjects, most of which were drawn from the infamous novel Justine." The tapestry 
is taken to the Prefecture. 

March 7(16 Ventose, Year IX)— Sade and Masse are interrogated. The latter, upon the 
promise of liberty, reveals where the stock of Juliette is held and turns it over, almost in its 
entirety, to the police. Sade admits to knowing of the manuscript, but claims he is only the 

April 2 (12 Germinal, Year IX)— Prefect Dubois, in agreement with the Minister of Police, 
decides that a "trial would cause too much of a scandal which an exemplary punishment 
would still not make worthwhile." It is therefore decided to "place" Sade in Sainte-Pelagie 
prison 33 as "administrative punishment" for being the author of "that infamous novel 
Justine" and of that "still more terrible work Juliette." 

April 5 (15 Germinal, Year IX)— Sade is incarcerated in Sainte-Pelagie. 

1802. Aet. 62 

May 20 (30 Floreal, Year X)— From Sainte-Pelagie, where he is still held, Sade writes to 
the Minister of Justice saying that as a captive in the "most frightful prison in Paris," he 
demands to be freed or tried. He swears he is not the author of Justine. 

1803. Aet. 63 

March 14 (23 Ventose, Year XI)— Sade is transferred to Bicetre prison. 

April 27 (7 Floreal, Year XI)— At the instigation of Sade's family, the prisoner is transferred 
from Bicetre ("a frightful prison") to the Charenton Asylum, under the escort of a policeman. 
His family agrees to pay his board at Charenton, which is set at 3000 francs annually. 34 

1804. Aet. 64 

May 1 (11 Floreal, Year XII)— The Prefect orders an examination of Sade's papers and has 
the prisoner informed that if he continues to show himself rebellious he will be sent back to 

June 20 (1 Messidor, Year XII)— Sade sends the newly constituted Senatorial Commission 
for Individual Liberty a strong protest against his arbitrary detention, noting that he has now 
spent four years in prison without coming to trial. Six weeks later 35 he repeats the plea in a 
letter to M. Fouche, Minister of Police. 

September 8 (21 Fructidor, Year XII)— The Prefect of Police Dubois submits a statement to 
the Minister of Police in which he describes Sade as an "incorrigible man" who was in a state 
of "constant licentious insanity" and of a "character hostile to any form of constraint." His 
conclusion is that there is good reason to leave him in Charenton where his family pays his 
board and where they desire he remain, to safeguard the family honor. 

1805. Aet. 65 

April 14 (24 Germinal, Year XIII)— On this Easter Sunday, Sade takes communion and 
takes up the collection in the parish church of Charenton-Saint-Maurice. 

May 17 (2/ Floreal, Year XIII)— Prefect Dubois, learning of this liberty granted Sade, 
reprimands the director of Charenton, M. de Coulmier, warning him that Sade is a prisoner 
who must "under no circumstances be allowed out without express authorization from me" 
and asking: "Moreover, did it not occur to you that the presence of such an individual [in 
church] could not fail to inspire a feeling of horror and cause public disturbances?" 

August 24 (6 Fructidor, Year XIII)— Sade draws up and signs a memorandum outlining the 
final conditions to which he will agree to his family's proposed purchase of all his property 
(save Saumane) in return for a life annuity. 

1806. Aet. 66 

January 30 36 — Sade draws up his last will and testament. 37 
March 5— He begins the final draft of his Histoire d'Emilie. 

July jo— He completes the first volume which he entitles Memoires d'Emilie de Valrose, 
ou les Egarements du libertinage. 

October 14— Louis-Marie de Sade takes part in the battle of Jena, on the staff of General 

1807. Aet. 67 

April 25— After thirteen months and twenty days work, Sade completes the revision of 
Histoire d'Emilie, which occupies seventy-two notebooks and forms the four final volumes of 
a large ten-volume work, the general title of which, "definitively decided upon today," is: Les 
Journees de Florbelle, ou la Nature devoilee, suivies des Memoires de I'abbe de Modose et des 

Aventures d'Emilie de Volnange. 

June 5— The police seize several manuscripts in Sade's room at Charenton, presumably Les 
Journees de Florbelle which Sade is never to see again and which will be burned shortly after 
his death. 

1808. Aet. 68 

June 14— Louis-Marie de Sade is wounded at Friedland. His valorous conduct earns him 
mention in the military dispatches. 

June 17— Sade writes to Napoleon, describing himself as the father of a son who has 
distinguished himself on the battlefield and requesting liberation. 

August 2— The Chief Medical Officer of Charenton, Antoine-Athanase-Royer-Collard, 
describes to the Minister of Police all the disadvantages that the presence of "the author of 
that infamous novel Justine" entails. "The man is not mad," Royer-Collard notes. "His only 
madness is that of vice. . . . Finally, it is rumored that he is living in the asylum with a 
woman 38 whom he passes off as his daughter." He recommends the suppression of the 
theater which Sade has organized at Charenton, maintaining it is dangerous for the 
patients, 39 and requests that Sade be transferred to some prison or fortress. 

September 2— In spite of Coulmier's intervention on Sade's behalf, 40 the Minister decides 
to transfer the Marquis to Ham prison. 

September 12— M. de Coulmier pays a personal call upon the Minister to appeal against the 
decision to transfer Sade out of Charenton, at least until such time as Sade's family makes up 
the back payments due for Sade's board and keep. 41 

September— Dr. Deguise, the Charenton surgeon, states that in Sade's plethoric condition, 
to transfer him would endanger his life. 

November 11 — Sade's family requests a postponement of his transfer, and the Minister 
agrees to defer it to April 15, 1809. 

1809. Aet. 69 
April 21— The transfer is postponed indefinitely. 

June 9— Louis-Marie de Sade, Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Isembourg Regiment, 
is ambushed near Mercugliano on the road to Otranto, where he is on way to rejoin his 
regiment, and is killed. 

1810. Aet. 70 

July 7— At about 10:00 A.M., Madame de Sade, who has been blind for some time, dies at 
Echauffour Castle. 

August 28— Sade sells his Mazan estates to Calixte-Antoine-Alexandre Ripert for the sum 
of 56,462 francs 50 centimes, which is collected by Sade's children as their mother's heirs. 

October 18— The Count de Montalivet, Minister of the Interior, issues a harsh order: 
"Considering that M. de Sade ... is suffering from the most dangerous of insanities, contact 
between him and the other inmates poses incalculable dangers, and for as much as his 
writings are no less demented than his speech and conduct. . ., I therefore order the 
following: That Monsieur de Sade be given completely separate lodging so that he be barred 
from all communication with others . . . and that the greatest care be taken to prevent any use 
by him of pencils, pens, ink, or paper. The director of the asylum is made personally 
responsible for the execution of this order." 

October 24— M. de Coulmier acknowledges receipt of the Minister's order and, noting that 
he does not have at his disposal at Charenton an isolated area such as the Minister requests 
for Sade, asks that Sade be transferred elsewhere. He further points out to Count Montalivet 
that "he credits himself with being the head of a humanitarian establishment" and would find 
it humiliating to see himself become "a jailer" or one given to the persecution of a fellow 

1811. Aet. 71 

February 6— A police report against two booksellers, Clemendot and Barba, who are selling 
Justine both in the provinces and in Paris, and against the former who is accused of secretly 
printing and distributing a set of one hundred engravings for Justine that had come into his 

March 31— Sade is interrogated at Charenton. 

July 9— Napoleon, sitting in Privy Council, decides to keep Sade in detention at Charenton. 

November 14— Sade is again questioned at Charenton, this time by Count Corvietto; in 
contrast to the March interrogation, when he was treated very rudely, Corvietto is "very 
gentle and decent." 

1812. Aet. 72 

June 9— The Minister of Police informs M. de Coulmier that he may inform the interested 
party that the Emperor, in meetings of the Privy Council of April 19 and May 3, has decided to 
continue Sade's detention. 

October 6— Some occasional verses, of which Sade is the author, are sung to His Eminence 
Cardinal Maury, Archbishop of Paris, who is visiting the Charenton Hospice. 

1813. Aet. 73 

March 31— Sade is subjected to a third interrogation, "very severe but very short." 
May 6— A ministerial order prohibits any further theatrical spectacles at Charenton. 

May 9— Sade begins to put the finishing touches on his Histoire secrete d'Isabelle de 
Baviere, which he completes four months later. 

—Publication of the two-volume work La Marquise de Gauge, of which Sade is the 

anonymous author. 

1814. Aet. 74 

April 11 — Napoleon abdicates. 

May 3— Solemn entry into Paris of Louis XVIII. 

May 31— M. de Coulmier is replaced as Director of Charenton by M. Roulhac de Maupas. 

September 7— M. Roulhac de Maupas calls the attention of the Minister of the Interior, 
Abbe de Montesquiou, to the necessity of removing from Charenton the Marquis de Sade 
who cannot be properly guarded and whose age and state of health do not permit seclusion. 
He further notes that, in spite of his commitments to pay for his father's board undertaken at 
the time of his transfer from Bicetre to Charenton, M. de Sade fils has refused to pay arrears 
on the board amounting to 8934 francs, although he has acquired his father's properties 
which guaranteed the dowry of his late mother, and denies that he owes his father's creditors 
anything, maintaining all these debts antedated his own mortgage. 

October 21— The Minister of the Interior invites Count Beugnot, Director-General of the 
Police, to make a decision concerning M. de Sade, who cannot remain at Charenton without 
grave consequences and who should be removed to a State prison. 

December 1— Sade, whose health has been failing for several months, ceases to be able to 

December 2— This day, a Saturday, Sade's son Donatien-Claude-Armand, comes to visit his 
father and asks the newly appointed student-doctor, L.-J. Ramon, to spend the night with 
him. On his way to the appointment, Dr. Ramon meets Abbe Geoffrey on his way out of 
Sade's room, Sade having made an appointment with the Abbe for the following morning. 
Ramon reports Sade's breathing as "noisy and labored" and he helps him take a few sips of 
herbal tea to help ease the pulmonary congestion from which Sade is suffering. Shortly 
before ten, the old man dies without a murmur, either from the above-named pulmonary 
congestion or from an "adynamic and gangrenous fever," according to the official report made 
to the director and to the police. 

In spite of the strict instructions to the contrary in his will, Sade is buried in the Charenton 
cemetery. The burial costs sixty-five livres, of which twenty for the cross, ten for the coffin, 
six for the chapel, nine for candles, six for the chaplain, eight for the bearers, and six for the 

Seven Letters (1763-1790) 

LETTER I (1763) 

To Mademoiselle de L. . . 2 

At Avignon, this 6th April 1763. 2 

Perjurer! ungrateful wretch! pray tell what has happened to those sentiments of lifelong 
devotion? who compels you to inconstancy? who obliges you to break the bonds which were 
to unite us forever? Did you take my departure for flight? 3 Did you believe that I could exist 
and flee from you? 'Tis doubtless from your own that you were judging the sentiments of my 
heart. I obtain the consent of my parents; my father, with tears in his eyes, asks of me naught 
but one last favor, and that is to come to Avignon to be married. I leave; I am assured that all 
efforts will now be bent toward persuading your father to bring you to these parts. I arrive, 
God knows with what alacrity and eagerness, in this region which is to become the witness of 
my happiness, a lasting happiness, a happiness that nothing will ever again be able to trouble. 
. . . But what is to become of me— dear God! can I ever survive this sorrow?— what is to 
become of me when I learn that, inspired by some noble impulse, you cast yourself at your 
father's knees to ask him to give up all further thought of this marriage, saying that you have 
no wish to be forced into any alliance. Vain and foolish reason, dictated by perfidy, O thou 
ungrateful, faithless wretch! You were afraid of being united to someone who adored you. 
These bonds of an everlasting chain were becoming a burden to you, and your heart, which is 
seduced by fickleness and frivolity alone, was not discerning or sensitive enough to be 
conscious of all the charms such bonds entailed. 'Twas the thought of leaving Paris that 
frightened you; my love was not enough for you; I was unable to make it last. Fie, monster, 
born to make my life miserable, stay there in Paris forever! May it one day become, through 
the deceitfulness and knavery of the scoundrel who will replace me in your heart, as odious 
to you as your own double dealing has made it in my eyes! . . . But what am I saying? Oh, my 
dear, my divine friend! the sole support of my heart, the only love of my life, where, my 
beloved, is my despair leading me? Forgive the outpourings of a poor wretch who no longer 
knows himself, for whom death, after the loss of what he loves, is the sole recourse. Alas! I 
draw near to it, this moment which will deliver me from the day I detest; my only wish now is 
to see it arrive. What can make me cling to a life whose sole delight was you? I lose you; I 

lose my existence, my life, I die, and by the crudest of deaths My mind wanders, my love, 

I am no longer myself; let the tears which becloud my eyes, flow. ... I cannot survive such 
misfortunes.— What are you doing?. . . what has become of you?. . . What am I in your eyes? 
An object of horror? of love?. . . Tell me, how do you view me? How can you justify your 
conduct? Good Heavens, perhaps mine cannot be justified in your eyes! Ah, if you will love 
me, if you love me as you have always loved me, as I love you, as I adore you, as I shall adore 
you all my life, pity our misfortunes, pity the crushing blows of fortune, write me, try and 

justify your actions Alas! it will not be all that difficult: what most pains and racks my 

heart is to find you guilty. Oh, how greatly 'tis relieved when it recognizes its error! If you 
love me, I do not for a moment doubt that you have opted for the convent. The last day I saw 
you, you remember, the day of all our misfortunes, you told me you would be delighted if 

they sent you to a convent. If you want us to be able to see each other, you know 'tis the only 
decision for you to take; for you know full well that it will be impossible for me to see you at 
your house. My father, when he sent me word of your action, gave me the choice of 
remaining here as long as I liked or rejoining him immediately. 'Tis your reply which will 
decide me; let it not languish; I shall count the days. Grant me the means of seeing you upon 
my arrival. I do not for a moment doubt that I shall find them in your letter. Whatever does 
not seem positive I shall take as a refusal; any refusal will be clear proof of your inconstancy, 
and your inconstancy my most certain sentence of death. But I cannot believe you have 
changed. What reason could bring you to? Perhaps this voyage of mine alarmed you: but, 
alas, let us be quite clear as to the veritable reasons for it. They blinded me, they made me 
believe I was rushing into the arms of happiness, whereas all they were trying to do was 
remove me from it. . . , 4 My dear love, do not abandon me, I beseech you; earnestly request 
the convent. As soon as I receive your letter I shall be off, and at your side. What tender 
moments we shall relive! . . . Take care of your health; I am working to restore my own. But 
no matter what the state of yours may be, nothing will keep me from offering you the most 
tender proof of my love. Throughout this affair, I believe you have had good reason, and will 
again, to be satisfied with my discretion. But I have merely done my duty; 'tis not that I am 

giving myself credit Beware of inconstancy; I do not deserve it. I confess to you that I 

shall be furious, and there is no horror I shall not commit. The little business of the c. . , 5 
ought to make you be sparing of me. I confess that I shall not conceal it from my rival, nor 
will that be the only secret I shall confide to him. There are no lengths— this I swear to you— 

to which I shall not go, no horrors to which I shall not stoop But I blush to think of 

employing these means to keep you. I wish to, and must, talk to you only of your love. Your 
promises, your oaths, your letters which I read incessantly every day, alone should keep you 

bound to me; I appeal only to them. I beg of you not to see ; he is unworthy to appear 

before you. In a word, my dear love, let me count upon your constancy! My absence will not 

be long; I await only your letter to depart Let it be good and kind, I beg of you, and may I 

find the means to see you when I arrive. I desire, I think of, I crave only you No, I am not 

afraid of being effaced from your heart; I have not deserved it. Love me still, my dear, and 
trust in time. And perhaps there will come a time, a time not far off, when you will not be so 
afraid to come into my family. When I am the head of it, my wishes will dictate my choice, 
and perhaps I shall then find you more determined. I need to be comforted and consoled, to 
be reassured, to receive proof of your constancy: everything alarms me. Your heroic act has 
dealt a blow to me. I assure you and give you my word of honor that nothing is more certain 
than what I am writing you, that I await naught but your reply to set out. My father has sent 
for me again; do not think that it is for a marriage. My mind is fully made up not to marry, 
and never have I aspired to do so. I am employing every means necessary, and those I deem 
the best, to make certain this letter reaches you. Do not fail to give the woman who delivers it 
to you a receipt, in your own hand, formulated in these terms: / acknowledge receipt of a 
letter from such-and-such a person. Follow this formula to the letter, for she is not to be paid 
what is promised her until she delivers the receipt into my hands. If you care to see me, do 
not delay your reply. I am counting the days. Try to make certain I receive it promptly, and 
that I find the means to see you when I arrive. Love me always; be faithful to me, if you do 
not wish to see me expire of sorrow. Adieu, my beloved child, I adore you and love you a 
thousand times more than life itself. Come, now, say what you will, but I swear that we shall 
never be aught but one for the other. 6 

LETTER II (1777) 

To Madame la Presidente de Montreuil 

This the 13th March 1777. 1 

If in a person capable of having violated at one stroke all of the most sacred sentiments 
mortals are given in trust: those of humanity in having a son arrested beside the coffin of his 
dead mother, 2 those of hospitality in betraying someone who had just cast himself into your 
arms, those of Nature in respecting not even the sanctuary taken by him who sought refuge 
in your daughter's embrace; if, I say, in one such person there could yet exist some trace of 
compassion, I would perhaps endeavor to excite it through a description at once authentic 
and frightful of my horrible plight. But these complaints were useless; independently of that 
fact, I have yet pride enough, low though I am laid, not to ornament your triumph with my 
tears, and even in these depths of misfortune I have courage enough to refrain from pleading 
with my tyrant. 

To place before you a few simple considerations will then be the sole purpose of this letter. 
You will set upon them what value you please; these few remarks, then no more, so that in 
silence you will be able for some short while at least to savor the pleasure you reap from my 

For a long time, Madame, I have been your victim; but do not think to make me your dupe. 
It is sometimes interesting to be the one, always humiliating to be the other, and I flatter 
myself upon as much penetration as you can claim deceit. I pray you, Madame, let us at all 
times maintain the very clearest distinction between two separate things, my case and my 
imprisonment: for my children's sake you are seeking the favor of the courts, and 
imprisonment, which you allege indispensable to that end and which is certainly not at all, is 
not and cannot be anything but the effect of your vengeance. Of all the opinions heard so far, 
the gloomiest, the most terrifying, that of M. Simeon 3 of Aix, said positively that it was 
altogether possible to obtain a judgment whereby exile would serve as prison to the accused. 
Those are Simeon's own words. A lettre de cachet banishing me out of the realm, would that 
not have answered the same purpose?— Of course— but it would not so well have satisfied 
your fury. 

Was it then you, all by yourself, who hatched and had enacted the scheme of having me 
locked away between four walls? And how on earth could the wise magistrates today 
governing the State have let themselves be hoodwinked to the point of believing they were 
promoting the interests of a family when the whole matter was patently of slaking a woman's 
thirst for revenge? Why, I repeat, am I behind bars? why is an imprudence on my part 
construed as a crime? why is there opposition to allowing me to prove to my judges the 
difference between the two? and why does that opposition come from you? So many 
questions to which, unless I am much mistaken, Madame is not disposed to reply. Ten or a 
dozen bolts and locks presently answer in your stead; but this tyranny's argument, to which 
law is formally opposed, is not eternally triumphant. In this I take comfort. 

Fixing our attention upon my case alone, is it to clear my name that you have me 
punished? and are you so deluded as to believe that this punishment shall go unknown? Do 
you fancy that they who eventually get wind of it shall fail to see a misdeed somewhere, 
punishment being so evident? Be it meted out by the King, be it meted out by judges, 'tis 
punishment nonetheless, and the public— which is neither indulgent nor overly curious to 

ferret out the truth—, is the public going to make this frivolous distinction? and will it not 
always see prior crime where punishment has ensued? And how then my enemies shall exult! 
what splendid opportunities you ready for them in the future! and how tempted they shall be 
to have at me anew, since the results correspond so nicely to their intentions! All your five 
years of slandering me have provided the foundation for this attitude and behavior in my 
regard, and you have at all times been aware of it from the cruel situation you have seen me 
in during this whole period, constantly the target of fresh calumnies which sordid interest 
based upon the unhappiness of my situation. How would you have a man thought anything 
but guilty after the public authorities come three or four times knocking at his door, and 
when he is finally clapped into jail once he is got hold of? Whom do you hope to convince I 
have not been in confinement when such a long time has passed since I've been seen or 
heard from? After all the maneuvers employed to seize me, and then after my disappearance 
—what else do you suppose anyone could think save that I had been arrested? And from this, 
what advantage shall be gleaned? My reputation lost forever and new troubles arising at 
every turn. That is what I shall owe to your superior manner of handling my affairs. 

But let us consider matters from another viewpoint. Is this a personal chastening I'm 
getting? and as if I were a naughty little boy, the idea is to spank me into good behavior? 
Wasted efforts, Madame. If the wretchedness and ignominy to which I have been reduced by 
the Marseilles judges' absurd proceedings, who punished the most commonplace of 
indiscretions as though it were a crime, have failed to make me mend my ways, your iron 
bars and your iron doors and your locks will not be more successful. You ought by now to 
know me well enough to realize that the mere suspicion of dishonor is capable of withering 
me to the heart, and you are clever enough to understand that a fault whose origin is in hot- 
bloodedness is not corrected by bringing that blood to a boil, by firing the brain through 
deprivation and inflaming the imagination through solitude. What I advance here will be 
supported by every reasonable being who has some acquaintance of me and who is not 
infatuated with the idiotic notion, that to correct or punish a man you must encage him like a 
wild beast; and I challenge any sane spirit not to conclude that from such usage the only 
possible result for me is the most certain organic disturbance. 

If then neither my conduct nor my reputation stand to gain from this latest piece of 
kindness in my regard— if, on the contrary, everything loses thereby, and it crazes my brain— 
what purpose shall it have served, Madame? It shall have served your vengeance, no? Yes, 'tis 
all too obvious, everything leads back to that starting point; and all I've just written is quite 
beside the point, all that matters not in the slightest, only one thing does: that I be sacrificed . 
. . and you satisfied. Indeed, you very surely say to yourself, the greater the damage wrought, 
the more content I'll be. But ought you not have been amply contented, Madame, by the six 
months I had of prison in Savoy for the same cause? Were five years of afflictions and 
stigmas insufficient? and was this appalling denouement absolutely necessary?— especially 
after I gave you the demonstration of what lengths this sort of maltreatment could drive me 
to, by risking my life to escape from it! Own that, knowing what you know, 'tis evidence of no 
little barbarity on your part to have the same thing inflicted upon me again, and with 
episodes a thousand times crueler than before and which, sickening me into total revolt, will 
at any moment have me dashing my head against the bars confining me. Do not reduce me to 
despair, Madame; I cannot endure this horrible solitude unscathed, I sense the worst coming. 
Remember: never shall any good come to you from bestializing my soul and rendering my 
heart immune to feeling, the only possible results of the frightful state you have had me put 
in. Give me time to repair my errors, do not make yourself responsible for those into which 

perhaps I shall again be swept by the dreadful disorder I feel brewing in my mind. 
I am respectfully, Madame, your very humble and very obedient servant. 


P. S. — If the person from Montpellier 4 returns, I hope it will not be without the most urgent 
recommendation not to breathe a word about the scandalous scene to which you shrewdly 
made him a witness, a blunder which, considering the circumstances of his father's affairs, is 
assuredly quite inexcusable. 

LETTER III (1783) 

To Madame de Sade 1 

Be so good as to tell me which of the two it is, Goodie Cordier 2 or Gaffer Fouloiseau, 3 who 
is against my having any shirts. You can deny clean linen to the inmates of a hospital; but I 
do not intend to go without it. How your meanness, that of your origin and that of your 
parents, shines forth in your every act! My dove, the day I so far forgot what I was that I 
could be willing to sell you what I am, it may have been to get you under the covers— but it 
wasn't to go uncovered. You and your crew, keep what I say there well in mind until I have 
the chance to bring it out in print. 

If I go through as much linen as I do, blame it on the laundress who every day either loses 
or tears to shreds everything of mine she can get her hands on, and rather than remonstrate 
with me, enjoin his lordship the Warden to issue orders remedying this state of affairs. Not a 
month passes but all this costs me eight or ten francs. Should such things be allowed? 

At any rate, I declare to you that if inside the next two weeks the linen I request is not 
forthcoming, I shall interpret this as proof positive that I am on the eve of deliverance, and 
shall pack my baggage; only my imminent release can possibly justify your stupid refusal to 
send me something to put on my back. Let them but remove the madmen from this 
establishment and one will be less loath to use what the house provides, one could then forgo 
asking to have things sent all the time from home. This place was not intended for the 
insane; Charenton is where they are to be put, not here, and the disgraceful greed that led to 
keeping them locked away there seems now to have been set aside by the police, the result 
being that those who are not mad risk becoming so by contagion. But the police are tolerant, 
tolerant of everything except discourtesy toward whores. You may render yourself guilty of 
every possible abuse and infamy so long as you respect the backsides of whores: 4 that's 
essential, and the explanation is not far to seek: whores pay, whereas we do not. Once I am 
out of here I too must contrive to put myself a little under the protection of the police: like a 
whore I too have an ass and I'd be well pleased to have it shown respect. I will have M. 
Fouloiseau take a look at it— even kiss it if he'd like to, and I am very sure that moved by such 
a prospect, he will straightway record my name in the book of proteges. 

The story was told to me that upon arriving in Paris (when you had me arrested) it was 
thus you went about having yourself certified. Before anything else the question was of 
determining whether the said ass had or had not been outraged— because my good mother-in- 
law claimed I was an outrager of asses. Consequently she wanted an examination by an 
expert. There she was, as I understand it, telling them You see, gentlemen, you see, he's a little 
devil, full of vices; he might even . . .perhaps. . . who knows? there's so much libertinage in 

that head of his And, as I understand it, there you were, lifting your petticoats. Magistrate 

Le Noir adjusts his spectacles, Albaret 5 is holding the lamp, Le Noir's alguazils have got pen 
and paper. And a report upon the state of the premises was writ out in these terms: 

"Item, having betaken ourselves to the said Hotel de Danemark at the requisition of Dame 
Montreuil nee Cordier, Marie-Magdeleine, 6 we did uncover the said Pelagie du Chauffour, 7 
daughter to the aforementioned, and having with care made proper and thorough 
examination we proclaim the said du Chauffour well and duly provided with a set of two very 
fair buttocks, excellently formed and intact within and without. We did ourselves approach 
and have our assistants as nearly approach the said member. They, at their risk and peril, did 
pry, spread, sniff, and probe, and having like ourselves observed naught but health in these 
parts, we have delivered these presents, whereof usage may be made in conformance to the 
law; and do furthermore, upon the basis of the exhibition described above, grant the said 
Pelagie du Chauffour access to the Tribunal and in future to our powerful protection. 

"Signed: Jean-Baptiste Le Noir, trifler extraordinary in Paris and born protector of the 
brothels in the capital and surroundings." 

Well? Is that how it went? Come, be a friend, tell me about it In addition or, if you 

prefer, in spite of it all, you have not sent me a quarter of the things I need. 

To begin with, I need linen, most decidedly I must have linen, otherwise I make ready my 
departure; then four dozen meringues; two dozen sponge cakes (large); four dozen chocolate 
pastille candies, vanillaed, and not that infamous rubbish you sent me in the way of sweets 
last time. 

What, will you tell me, are these twelve quarter-quires of paper? I asked for no quires of 
anything; I asked you for a copybook to replace the one containing the comedy I had 
conveyed to you. Send me that copybook and don't prattle so, it's very tiresome. So 
acknowledge receipt of my manuscript. It is not at all of the sort I'd like to have go astray. It 
belongs safely in a drawer for the time being; later, when it goes to the printer, it can be 
corrected. Until then it need not get lost. With manuscripts you delete, you amend, you 
tinker, they are meant for that; but they are never meant to be stolen. 

For God's own sake, when will you finally be tired of truckling? Had you ever noticed one 
of your servilities to meet with success, I'd let it pass; but after close on to seven years of this, 
where has it brought you? Come, speak up. You aim at my undoing? You would unsettle my 
brain? If so, you are all going to be wonderfully rewarded for your efforts, for by everything 
that is most holy to me I swear to pay every one of your farces back and with good measure; I 
assure you I shall grasp their spirit with an artfulness that will stun you, and shall compel 
you all to recognize for the rest of your days what colossal imbeciles you have been. I confess 
I was a long while believing your Le Noir had no hand in these abominations, but since he 
continues to suffer them, that alone proves he has his part in them and convinces me that he 
is no less a damned fool than the others. 

Do not forget the nightcap, the spectacles, the six cakes of wax, Jean-Jacques' Confessions 
and the coat M. de Rougemont claims that you have. I am returning a boring novel and vols. 4 
and 6 of Velly. With these I send a hearty kiss for your nether end and am, devil take me, 
going to give myself a flick of the wrist in its honor! Now don't run off and tell the Presidente 
so, for being a good Jansenist, she's all against the molinizing of wives. She maintains that 
M. Cordier has never rammed anything but her vessel of propagation and that whoever 
steers any other course is doomed to sink in hell. And I who had a Jesuit upbringing, I who 
from Father Sanchez learned that one must avoid plunging in over one's depth, and look hard 
lest one leap into emptiness because, according to Descartes, Nature abhors a vacuum, I 

cannot put myself in accord with Mamma Cordier. But you're a philosopher, you have a 
countercharming counter sense, much counterplay and narrowness in your countersense and 
heat in the rectum, whence it is I am able to accord myself very well with you. 
I am yours indeed, in truth your own. 

Directly this letter reaches you, will you please go in person to the shop of M. Grandjean, 
oculist, rue Galande by Place Maubert and tell him to send straight to M. de Rougemont the 
drugs and instruments he promised to furnish to the prisoner he visited in Vincennes; and 
while you are about it you will go to see your protector Le Noir, and tell him to arrange to 
have me enjoy a little fresh air. He enjoys plenty of it, does Le Noir, although a wickeder man 
than I by far: I've paddled a few asses, yes, I don't deny it, and he has brought a million souls 
to the brink of starvation. The King is just: let His Majesty decide between Le Noir and me 
and have the guiltier broken on the wheel, I make the proposal with confidence. 

In addition to the neglected errands and to those requested above, attend, if you please, to 
procuring for me one pint of eau de Cologne, a head-ribbon and a half-pint of orange-water. 

LETTER IV (1783) 

To Madame de Sade 1 

My queen, my amiable queen, they are forsooth droll fellows and insolent, the lackeys you 
have in hire. Were it anything less than certain that your numbers are riddles (squaring 
nicely, by the way, with my manner of thinking) 2 your errand boys would be in line for a 
sound caning one of these days. Ah, would you hear the latest? They are giving me their 
estimates upon how much longer I am to remain here! Exquisite farce! It's for you, charming 
princess, it is for you who are on your way to sup and dicker with Madame Turnkey (at the 
hospital today), I say it's for you, my cunning one, to take the temperature of my captors, for 
you to divine just when it is going to suit them to unkennel me, for you to learn their 
pleasure of my lordships Martin, 3 Albaret, Fouloiseau, and the other knaves of that breed 
whom you will deign to permit me, for my part, to consider so many cab horses fit for 
whipping or to serve the public convenience at whatever hour and in any kind of weather. 

To refuse me Jean-Jacques' Confessions, now there's an excellent thing, above all after 
having sent me Lucretius and the dialogues of Voltaire; that demonstrates great 
judiciousness, profound discernment in your spiritual guides. Alas, they do me much honor 
in reckoning that the writings of a deist can be dangerous reading for me; would that I were 
still at that stage. You are not sublime in your methods of doctoring, my worthy healers of the 
soul! Learn that it is the point to which the disease has advanced that determines whether a 
specific remedy be good or bad for the patient, not the remedy in itself. They cure Russian 
peasants of fever with arsenic; to that treatment, however, a pretty woman's stomach does 
not well respond. Therein see the proof that everything is relative. Let that be your starting 
point, gentlemen, and have enough common sense to realize, when you send me the book I 
ask for, that while Rousseau may represent a threat for dull-witted bigots of your species, he 
is a salutary author for me. Jean-Jacques is to me what The Imitation of Christ is for you. 
Rousseau's ethics and religion are strict and severe to me, I read them when I feel the need to 
improve myself. If you would not have me become better than I am, why, 'tis high time you 
told me so. The state one is in when one is good is an uncomfortable and disagreeable state 
for me, and I ask no more than to be left to wallow in my slough; I like it there. Gentlemen, 

you imagine your pons asinorum must be used and must succeed with everybody; and you 
are mistaken, I'll prove it to you. There are a thousand instances in which one is obliged to 
tolerate an ill in order to destroy a vice. For example, you fancied you were sure to work 
wonders, I'll wager, by reducing me to an atrocious abstinence in the article of carnal sin. 
Well, you were wrong: you have produced a ferment in my brain, owing to you phantoms 
have arisen in me which I shall have to render real. That was beginning to happen, you have 
done naught but reinforce and accelerate developments. When one builds up the fire too high 
under the pot, you know full well that it must boil over. 

Had I been given Mr. 6 4 to cure, I'd have proceeded very differently, for instead of locking 
him up amidst cannibals I would have cloistered him for a while with girls, I'd have supplied 
him girls in such good number that damn me if after these seven years there'd be a drop of 
fuel now left in the lamp! When you have a steed too fiery to bridle you gallop him over 
rough terrain, you don't shut him up in the stable. Thereby might you have guided Mr. 6 into 
the good way, into what they call the honorable path. You'd have brought an end to those 
philosophical subterfuges, to those devious practices Nature disavows (as though Nature had 
anything to do with all this), to those dangerous truancies of a too ardent imagination which 
ever in hot pursuit of happiness and never able to find it anywhere, finishes by substituting 
illusions for reality and dishonest detours for lawful pleasure. . . . Yes, in the middle of a 
harem Mr. 6 would have become the friend of woman; he would have discovered and felt that 
there is nothing so beautiful, nothing so great as her sex, and that outside of her sex there is 
no salvation. Occupied solely in serving ladies and in satisfying their dainty desires, Mr. 6 
would have sacrificed all his own. Susceptible of none but decent ones, with him decency 
would have become a habit, that habit would have accustomed his mind to quelling 
penchants which had hitherto prevented him from pleasing. The whole treatment would have 
ended with our sufferer appeased and at peace; and lo! see how out of the depths of vice I 
would have enticed him back to virtue. For once again, a little less of vice is virtuousness in a 
very vicious heart. Think not that 'tis child's play, to retrieve a man from the abyss; your mere 
proposal to rescue him will cause him to cling tight to where he is. Content yourself with 
having him conceive a liking for things milder in their form but in substance the same as 
those he is wont to delight in. Little by little you will gradually hoist him up from the cloaca. 
But if you hurry him along, jostle him, if you attempt to snatch everything away from him all 
at once, you will only irritate him further. Only by slow steps is a stomach accustomed to a 
diet; you destroy it if you suddenly deprive it of food. True enough, there are certain spirits 
(and of these I have known one or two) so heavily mired in evil, and who unfortunately find 
therein such charm, that however slight it were, any reform would be painful for them; 
'twould seem they are at home in evil, that they have their abode there, that for them evil is 
like a natural state whence no effort to extricate them might avail: for that some divine 
intervention would be necessary and, unhappily, heaven, to whom good or evil in men is a 
matter of great indifference, never performs miracles in their behalf. And, strangest of all, 
profoundly wicked spirits are not sorry for their plight; all the inquietudes, all the nuisances, 
all the cares vice brings in its train, these, far from becoming torments to them, are rather 
delights, similar, so to speak, to the rigors of a mistress one loves dearly, and for whose sake 
one would be aggrieved not to have sometimes to suffer. Yes, my fairest of the fair, by God's 
own truth, well do I know a few spirits of this kind. Oh, and how dangerous they are! May the 
Eternal spare us, thou and me, ever from resembling them, and to obtain His mercy let us 
both before we lay us in our beds, kneel down and recite a Paternoster and an Ave Maria with 
an Oremus or two in honor of Mr. Saint [lacuna in MS.]. ('Tis a signal.) 

With a great kiss for each of your buttocks. 

I would remind you that you have sent me beef marrow in the past when the weather was 
just as warm as it is at present, and that I have none left; I beseech you to send me some 
without fail by the 15th of the month. Also, two night-ribbons, so as not to have to wait when 
one needs replacing: the widest and darkest you are able to find. 

Herewith the exact measurements for a case I would be obliged if you would have made 
for me, generally similar to the other you sent me but with these dimensions, to be observed 
to the sixteenth of an inch and with a top that screws on three inches from the end. No loops, 
no ivory clasps like the last time, because they don't hold. This case (since your confessors 
must have an explanation for everything) is to store rolled up plans, prints and several little 
landscapes I've done in red ink. And I believe indeed [one or two words obliterated in MS.] 
were it for a nun, ought to put [several words obliterated in MS.]. Kindly attend to this 
errand as soon as possible; my plans and drawings are floating loose everywhere about, I 
don't know where to stick them. 

Those who tell you I have enough linen are wrong. I am down to four wearable shirts and 
am completely without handkerchiefs and towels. So send me what I have requested, will you 
please, and put a stop to your silly joking upon this subject. Send me linen, plenty of linen— 
bah, never fear, I've plenty of time ahead of me to wear it out. 

LETTER V (1783) 

To Madame de Sade 1 

Good God, how right he is when M. Duclos tells us on page 101 of his Confessions 2 that the 
witticisms of barristers always stink of the backstairs. Allow me to go him one better and say 
that they smell of the outroom, of the outhouse: the brainless platitudes your mother and her 
Keeper of the Tables invent are of an odor not to be suffered in any proper salon. And so you 
never weary of their drivel and their pranks! and so we are to have buffoonery and lawyers to 
the bitter end! Well, my chit, feed on that stuff to your heart's content, gorge yourself on it, 
drink yourself high with it. I am wrong to wish to teach you nice manners, quite as wrong as 

were he who would attempt to prove to a pig that a vanilla cream pasty is better than at 

But if you give me examples of obstinacy, at least forbear from criticizing me for mine. You 
cleave to your principles, eh? And so do I to mine. But the great difference between us two is 
that my systems are founded upon reason while yours are merely the fruit of imbecility. 

My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved. Do you suppose I care? A poor 
fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others! My manner of thinking stems 
straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am made. 
It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I'd not do so. This manner of thinking you find 
fault with is my sole consolation in life; it alleviates all my sufferings in prison, it composes 
all my pleasures in the world outside, it is dearer to me than life itself. Not my manner of 
thinking but the manner of thinking of others has been the source of my unhappiness. The 
reasoning man who scorns the prejudices of simpletons necessarily becomes the enemy of 
simpletons; he must expect as much, and laugh at the inevitable. A traveler journeys along a 
fine road. It has been strewn with traps. He falls into one. Do you say it is the traveler's fault, 
or that of the scoundrel who lays the traps? If then, as you tell me, they are willing to restore 

my liberty if I am willing to pay for it by the sacrifice of my principles or my tastes, we may 
bid one another an eternal adieu, for rather than part with those, I would sacrifice a thousand 
lives and a thousand liberties, if I had them. These principles and these tastes, I am their 
fanatic adherent; and fanaticism in me is the product of the persecutions I have endured 
from my tyrants. The longer they continue their vexations, the deeper they root my principles 
in my heart, and I openly declare that no one need ever talk to me of liberty if it is offered to 
me only in return for their destruction. I say that to you. I shall say it to M. Le Noir. I shall 
say it to the entire earth. Were the very scaffold before me, I'd not change my tune. If my 
principles and my tastes cannot consort with the laws of this land, I don't for a moment insist 
upon remaining in France. In Europe there are wise governments which do not cast dishonor 
upon people because of their tastes and which do not cast them into jail because of their 
opinions. I shall go elsewhere to live, and I shall live there happily. 

The opinions or the vices of private individuals do not harm the State; through their 
morals only public figures exert any influence upon the general administration. Whether a 
private person believes or does not believe in God, whether he admires and venerates a harlot 
or treats her with kicks and curses, neither this form of behavior nor that will maintain or 
shake the constitution of a State. But let the magistrate whose duty is to see the victualing of 
a town double the price of commodities because the purveyors make it worth his while, let 
the treasurer entrusted with public funds leave hirelings to go unpaid because he prefers to 
turn those pennies to his own account, let the steward of a royal and numerous household 
leave the luckless troops to die of hunger whom the King has introduced into his palace, 
because that officer would have a hearty feed at home the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday— 
and from one end of the country to the other the effects of this malversation will be felt; 
everything falls to pieces. And nonetheless the extortioner triumphs while the honest man 
rots in a dungeon. A State approaches its ruin, spake Chancellor Olivier 3 at the Bed of Justice 
held in Henry II's reign, when only the weak are punished, and the rich felon gets his 
impunity from his gold. 

Let the King first correct what is vicious in the government, let him do away with its 
abuses, let him hang the ministers who deceive or rob him, before he sets to repressing his 
subjects' opinions or tastes! Once again: those tastes and opinions shall not unsteady his 
throne, but the indignities of those near to it will overthrow it sooner or later. 

Your parents, you tell me, dear friend, your parents are taking measures to prevent me 
from ever being in a position to claim anything from them. This extraordinary sentence is all 
the more so for demonstrating that either they or I must be knaves. If they think me capable 
of asking them for anything beyond your dowry, I am the knave (but I am not; knavery has 
never had entrance among my principles, it's too base a vice); and if, on the contrary, they are 
taking measures in order never to give me that upon which my children must naturally count, 
then they are the knaves. Kindly decide which it is to be, the one or the other, for your 
sentence leaves no middle ground. You point your finger at them? I am not surprised. Neither 
am I surprised at the trouble they encountered marrying you off, or at the remark one of your 
suitors made: The daughter, I'm nothing loath; but spare me from the parents. My surprise 
shall cease at the fact they have been paying me your dowry in vouchers that lose two-thirds 
on the market; no more shall I marvel that those who were concerned for my interests always 
used to warn me: Have a care there, you've no idea whom you are dealing with. People who 
take measures not to pay the dowry promised to their daughter, none of the doings of such 
people ought to cause surprise; and I have long suspected that the honor of having sired three 
children upon you was going to be my ruin. It's doubtless to secure it that your mother has so 

often had my house entered and my papers filched. It won't cost her but a few louis to have 
some documents now disappear out of the notaries' files, to have some notes to Albaret 
falsified: and when at last I emerge from here I shall be perfectly able to beg in the streets.— 
Well, what's to be done in the face of that? To me three things shall always remain as 
consolation for everything: the pleasure of informing the public, which is not fond of the foul 
tricks lawyers play upon noblemen; the hope of advising the King by going and casting myself 
at his feet if need be, to ask restitution for the roguery of your parents; and should all that 
fail, the satisfaction, to me very sweet, of possessing you for your own sake, my dear friend, 
and of devoting the little that shall still be mine to your needs, to your desires, to the charm 
unto my heart unique of seeing you owe everything to me. 


LETTER VI (1790) 

To Monsieur Gaufridy 1 

The 12th of April 1790 

I came out of Charenton (whither I had been transferred from the Bastille) on Good 
Friday. The better the day the better the deed! Yes, my good friend, 'twas upon that day I 
recovered my freedom; wherefore have I decided to celebrate it as a holiday for the rest of my 
life and instead of those concerts, of those frivolous promenades custom has irreligiously 
sanctified at that time of year, when we ought only to moan and weep, instead, I say, of all 
those mundane vanities, whenever the forty-fifth day after Ash Wednesday brings us around 
to another Good Friday, you shall see me fall to my knees, pray, give thanks . . . make 
resolutions to mend my ways, and keep them. 

Now to the facts, my dear lawyer, for I see you about to echo what everybody tells me: It's 
not talk we want, Sir, but facts— to the facts then: the facts are that I landed in the middle of 
Paris without a louis in my pocket, without knowing where to go, where to lodge, where to 
dine, where to procure any money. M. de Milly, procurator at the Chatelet, and who has been 
supervising my interests in this part of the country for twenty-six years, was kind enough to 
offer me a bed, his board and six louis. Unwilling to overstay my welcome or become a 
burden, after four days at M. de Milly's, with three louis left of the original six, I had to set 
forth and find for myself everything— inn, domestic, tailor, my meals, etc.— with three louis. 

My circumstances being what they were I made request of Madame la Presidente de 
Montreuil, which lady graciously consented to instruct her notary to advance me a few louis 
upon condition I write to you at once for the wherewithal first to reimburse the borrowed 
sum, and second to stay alive. I do therefore conjure you, my good lawyer, to dispatch to me 
without delay of any sort the preliminary sum of one thousand crowns, the sum I asked you 
for the other day and whereof my need is no less extreme than the promptitude of your 
response to it essential. 

LETTER VII (1790) 

To Monsieur Gaufridy 

I have just this instant come into receipt of your letter of the fourteenth: as it arrives too 
soon to be in answer to mine, I am master of my disappointment at not encountering here 
one of those charming notes which by far outvalue love letters, and with which one obtains 
money immediately. 

You must not doubt that if I did not write to you during my detention, 'twas because I 
lacked the means to do so; I cannot well forgive you for supposing my silence due to anything 
else. I'd not have bothered about business details, what would have been the use in my 
position? But I would have inquired after your news, I would have given you my own, upon 
the chains lading me we might have dropped an occasional flower. But my captors would not 
have it so; I did venture a letter to you in that vein, it was returned to me, flung back at me, 
after that I wrote no more. Therefore, my dear lawyer, I repeat it, I cannot forgive you for 
having doubted my feelings in your regard. We have known one another since childhood, I 
need not remind you of it; a long-standing friendship made it natural that it be you in whom I 
placed my trust when long ago I besought you to take on the management of my affairs; what 
motive could I have had for changing my attitude? 'Twas not your fault I was arrested at La 
Coste, 'twas mine, I was too sure I was in safety there and I knew not with what an 
abominable family I had to contend. It goes without saying, and I assume you will have 
understood already, that when I speak here of family I am referring to the Montreuils; you 
have not, cannot have, the faintest conception of the infernal and anthropophagical manner 
in which these people have conducted themselves with me. Had I been the last of the living 
and the lowliest, nobody would have dared treat me with the barbarity I have suffered thanks 
to them; in fine, it has cost me my eyesight and my chest; for lack of exercise I have become 
so enormously fat I can scarce stir my body; prison slew in me the very faculty of sensation; I 
have no more taste for anything, no liking, no love; the society I so madly regretted looks so 
dull to me today, so forlorn and sad! There are moments when I am moved by a wish to join 
the Trappists, and I cannot say but what I may go off some fine day and vanish altogether 
from the scene. Never was I such a misanthrope as since I have returned into the midst of 
men; and if in their eyes I now have the look of a stranger, they may be very sure they 
produce the same effect upon me. I was not idle during my detention; consider, my dear 
lawyer, I had readied fifteen volumes for the printer; 1 now that I am at large, hardly a quarter 
of those manuscripts remains to me. Through unpardonable thoughtlessness, Madame de 
Sade let some of them become lost, let others be seized; thirteen years of toil gone for 
naught! The bulk of those writings had remained behind in my room at the Bastille when on 
the fourth of July, I was removed from there to Charenton; on the fourteenth the Bastille is 
stormed, overrun, and my manuscripts, six hundred books I owned, two thousand pounds 
worth of furniture, precious portraits, the lot is lacerated, burned, carried off, pillaged: a clean 
sweep, not a straw left: and all that owing to the sheer negligence of Madame de Sade. She 
had had ten whole days to retrieve my possessions; she could not but have known that the 
Bastille, which they had been cramming with guns, powder, soldiers, was being prepared 
either for an attack or for a defense. Why then did she not hasten to get my belongings out of 
harm's way? my manuscripts?— my manuscripts over whose loss I shed tears of blood! Other 

beds, tables, chests of drawers can be found, but ideas once gone are not found again No, 

my friend, no, I shall never be able to figure to you my despair at their loss, for me it is 
irreparable. Since then, the sensitive and delicate Madame de Sade holds me at arm's length, 
won't see me. Another would have said He is unhappy, we must dry his tears away; this logic 
of feelings has not been hers. I have not lost enough, she wishes to ruin me, she is asking for 
a separation. Through this inconceivable proceeding she is going to legitimate all the 

calumnies that have been spewed against me; she is going to leave her children and me 
destitute and despised, and that in order to live, or rather to vegetate deliciously, as she 
phrases it, in a convent 2 where some confessor is doubtless consoling her, giving her to see 
the merits and the practicability of the path of crime, of horror, and of indignity down which 
her behavior is going to drive us all. When 'tis my most mortal enemy who has her ear, the 
advice my wife is receiving could not possibly be worse, nor more disastrous. 

You will have no trouble realizing, my dear lawyer, that having now to answer out of my 
assets for the sums drawn from my wife's dowry (one hundred sixty thousand livres), this 
separation is going to be my financial finish, which is what these monsters are after. Alas, 
great God! I'd thought seventeen miserable years, thirteen of them in horrible dungeons, 
would expiate a few rash follies committed in my youth. You see how mistaken I was, my 
friend. The rage of Spaniards is never appeased, and this execrable family is Spanish. Thus 
could Voltaire write in Alzire: What? You have a Spaniard's look— and you have the capacity 
to forgive? 



1. Laure-Victoire-Adeline de Lauris, born in Avignon on the 8th of June, 1741, was exactly 
one year younger than Sade. Hers was one of the most illustrious houses of Provence, tracing 
its lineage back to the thirteenth century. Although it has long been known that, prior to 
1763, the year of his marriage, the fiery-tempered Sade had not often lacked for objects of his 
amatory dalliance or affection, the existence of Mademoiselle de Lauris as one of them 
remained unknown to Sade scholars and students until recently. It was the indefatigable 
Gilbert Lely who, in 1949, discovered the present letter among the unpublished 
correspondence of the Sade family which Maurice Heine bequeathed to the Bibliotheque 
Nationale in Paris. 

2. Sade was married to Mademoiselle de Montreuil on May 17th of this same year. Thus 
his ardent letter to Mademoiselle de Lauris predates his marriage by less than six weeks. 

3. Sade had gone to Avignon, ostensibly to await the arrival of his mistress and wife-to-be. 
But following his departure from Paris, either Mile, de Lauris had a change of heart or, 
perhaps, family pressures were brought to bear against the marriage. 

4. Although Sade's father apparently acquiesced to his son's demands to marry 
Mademoiselle de Lauris, it is known that he far preferred the much more advantageous 
alliance with the Montreuil family. Sade's sentence here would seem to suggest that 
someone, perhaps his father acting alone or in collusion, sent him to Avignon under false 
pretenses, the real motive being to separate him from Laure. 

5. Lely speculates, not unreasonably, that the "c . . ." may refer to the "picturesque term 
which, still today, is used in popular language to designate gonorrhea. Indeed, in a letter from 
the Count de Sade to his sister, the Abbess de Saint-Laurent (Bibliotheque Nationale MS. 
24384, no. 1936) mentions that the Marquis is 'more in love than ever' with Mile, de Lauris, 
who apparently 'made him ill' And there would seem to be little doubt about the matter 

when one compares this remark to the allusions earlier in Sade's letter where he admonishes 
Laure: 'Take care of your health; I am working to restore my own. . . ."' 

6. The fact is that Laure de Lauris never married. There is also evidence that Sade's 
feelings for her persisted long after his marriage to Mademoiselle de Montreuil, as suggested 
by a letter Sade subsequently wrote to Laure's father, reproaching him for not inviting Sade 
to a ball Monsieur Lauris was giving. In this letter, Sade speaks of "My absolutely 
irreproachable conduct since everlasting bonds [i.e., his marriage to another] have prevented 
me from forming those which were destined to make my happiness." Lely further speculates, 
without the slightest evidence however, that Sade may have had a later liaison with Laure, 
after his marriage, during the years he was living at La Coste. The only basis for his 
speculation is the proximity of La Coste and Vacqueyras, the seigneury of the Lauris family, 
which were only twenty miles apart. 


1. One month to the day after Sade was incarcerated in Vincennes Keep. 

2. From 1773, when he escaped from the fortress of Miolans, until his arrest on February 
!3> !777> m Paris, Sade was either traveling incognito abroad or hiding in France. In late 
January of 1777, by means of messages reporting the grave state of his mother's health, 
Madame de Montreuil succeeded in luring Sade to Paris: arriving there (on February 8) he 
learned the Dowager Countess had died three weeks previously. And on the 13th, Inspector 
Marais, armed with a lettre de cachet obtained by Madame de Montreuil, arrested the 
Marquis in his hotel and conducted him to Vincennes. 

3. Joseph-Jerome Simeon of Aix-en Provence was attorney for the defense when in 1778 
Sade appeared before the Parliament of Aix to face charges of having poisoned some 
prostitutes in Marseilles in 1772. Inculpated that same year, the Aix court had condemned 
Sade— then in flight— to be burned in effigy. The search for him continued: he was at last 
overtaken at Chambery. It was in connection with the Marseilles episode that Sade was 
imprisoned at Miolans, and then in Vincennes. 

4. To our knowledge, the identity of the person in question has so far eluded all Sade 


1. Undated letter which from internal evidence would seem to have been written in July, 
1783. It was dispatched from Vincennes where, after standing trial in Aix, Sade had been 
imprisoned (for the third time) since September 7, 1778. 

2. Goodie Cordier: Madame de Montreuil. 

3. Fouloiseau was Madame de Montreuil's factotum. 

4. In another letter, cited by Lely, Sade remarks: "'Tis for having taken disrespectful 
liberties with the ass of a whore that the father of a family, separated from his children, must 

risk the loss of their affection, must be snatched from the arms of his wife, from the care of 
his lands, must be robbed, ruined, dishonored, doomed, must be prevented from bringing up 
his children to enter into the world, and from appearing in it himself, must be the plaything 
of a gang of jailers, the prey of three or four other villains, must waste his lifetime, lose his 
health, be despoiled of his money, and be for the past seven years shut up like a lunatic in an 
iron cage." 

5. Albaret: another of Madame de Montreuil's factotums. 

6. The Preside nte's full name was: Marie-Madeleine Masson de Plissay, Dame Cordier de 
Launay de Montreuil. 

7. Madame de Sade's Christian name was, as we have noted, Renee-Pelagie. The 
Montreuils owned a property called d'Echauffour. 


1. Letter written from Vincennes, undated but clearly belonging to the same period as 
Letter III. 

2. Concerning the "numbers," the "signals," the "ciphers" Sade again and again refers to in 
his letters (and in his "Note Concerning My Detention"), Gilbert Lely writes {VAigle, 
Mademoiselle. . ., pp. 153-54): "In almost all of Sade's letters of this period one meets with 
allusions to more or less comprehensible numbers which he often calls signals. What does 
this curious arithmetic signify? Imprisoned in Vincennes by lettre de cachet, that is, utterly at 
the mercy of his persecutors' discretion, Sade found himself in tragic ignorance of how long 
his detention was to last; wherewith he contrived a system of deduction based upon 
calculations which, while they may appear ludicrous to us, were in his mind of a nature to 
reveal the wildly yearned for day of his liberation. . . . Actually, the Marquis' troubling 
arithmetical operations constitute a kind of defense mechanism, a partly unconscious 
struggle to ward off the despair which, he dreaded, were it to gain the upper hand, would lead 
to the overthrow of his reason. Absolutely in the dark as to his captors' concrete intentions, 
Sade is led 'to ferret out the most unexpected points of departure for his calculations,' writes 
Maurice Heine. 'To his eye everything has the look of a hint of his fate, or perhaps of a 
mysterious indication that has escaped the censor's notice. His mind fastens desperately 
upon the number of lines in a letter, upon the number of times such and such a word is 
repeated, even upon a consonance which, spoken aloud, suggests a figure.' But his efforts are 
not confined to trying to discover the date of his return to freedom; he also seeks for clues 
regarding his life while in prison: upon exactly what day will he again be allowed to take 
exercise? When will Madame de Sade visit him? His wife's letters are the major source from 
which he mines the elements for his reckonings, and sometimes when the deductions he 
extracts from them have a baneful or contradictory look, he accuses Madame de Montreuil of 
having suggested to the Marquise such signals as might demoralize or throw him into 

An example: "This letter has 72 syllables which are the 72 weeks remaining. It has 7 lines 

plus 7 syllables which makes exactly the 7 months and 7 days from the 17th of 
April till the 22nd of January, 1780. It has 191 letters and 49 words. Now, 49 

words plus 16 lines makes 59 [sic], and there are 59 weeks between now and 
May 30. . ." 

Another: "On March 28 he sent to borrow 6 candles from me; and on April 6, 6 others 

whereof I lent only 4 Thursday the 6th of January, 9 months after the 

borrowing of the candles, on exactly the same day 25 were returned to me 
instead of the 10 I had lent, which seems very plainly to designate another 9 
months in prison, making 25 in all." 

And finally: "I know of nothing that better illustrates the sterility of your imaginations, your 
dearth of imagination, than the unbearable monotony of your insipid signals. 
What! nothing but valets forever sick of cleaning boots! or else workers 
reduced to enforced idleness! And most recently, because you had to find a 23 
from somewhere, this: promenades restricted to between 2 and 3. Presto! 
there's your 23.— Astounding! Sublime! What! What quickness of wit, what 
genius, what brilliance! But, these signals of yours, if you must make them, at 
least do so with an honest intent and not as so many vexations." 

3. Martin: a police sheriff. 

4. Mr. 6: that is, Sade himself. He occupied Cell No. 6 at Vincennes. 

1. Written from Vincennes, probably in early November, 1783. 

2. Les Confessions du comte de***, published in 1742, is less a novel than a gallery of 
portraits and a collection of anecdotes. 

3. Francois Olivier (1493-1560), Chancellor of France under Francois I and Henri II. 

1. Gaufridy was a notary public and procurator in the little town of Apt near La Coste, 
Sade's favorite residence in Provence. Gaufridy's father had handled business affairs for the 
Comte de Sade; the Marquis entrusted his own to the younger Gaufridy, who for twenty years 
supervised the management and finances of his estates at Mazan, Saumane, and Aries as well 
as at La Coste. 


1. Sade is referring to his Catalogue raisonne des oeuvres de Yauteur, which he had drawn 
up in the Bastille on October 1, 1788, and to which we refer elsewhere in the present volume. 

2. In 1781 Madame de Sade had taken up quarters at Sainte-Aure, a Carmelite convent in 
Paris, where she was to remain up until and after the time of her legal separation from the 

Note Concerning My Detention (1803) 

I observed that the situation wherein I was being kept and the pranks being played upon 
me were forcing me to mistake true and authentic happenings for events produced by the 
imbecile spitefulness of the scoundrels who had me at their mercy; the effort to render 
myself insensible to those arranged by artifice had the further result of rendering me 
insensible to those of fate or of Nature, in such wise that for the sake of my inward peace, I 
preferred to credit nothing and to adopt an attitude of indifference toward everything. 
Whence there developed the terrible and dangerous situation of being ever ready to discount 
as a deliberate falsehood any announcement of some unpleasant truth, and in the interest of 
tranquillity, to rank it among the lies that were multiplied to foster or give rise to situations; 
nay, it may fairly be said that nothing did greater hurt both to my heart and to my character. 
To undo my mind was the aim of all this. It failed; knowing me well, my persecutors ought to 
have known that my mind was too strong and too philosophical to yield to such nonsense. 
But it did nonetheless have a hardening effect upon my heart, a souring effect upon my 
character: effects both pernicious and harmful to produce, and which testified to naught but 
the crass stupidity of these teasings, worthy of the crass dolts who inflicted and who 
recommended them. And what were the dire effects further produced upon me by the denial 
of the good books I wanted to read, by the obstacles created to hinder me from composing the 
good books I wanted to write! But what had one not to expect from people who, forming 
ciphers and signals, had, through sending me to Bicetre, sacrificed my honor and my 

That system of signals and ciphers those rogues utilized while I was in the Bastille and 
during the last of my detentions, wrought yet another and grave damage upon me through 
accustoming me to cling to any such fantastic notion or phantom as might shore up my hope 
and to any conjecture capable of nourishing it. Thus did my mind take on the sophistical cast 
I am reproached for in my writings. 

By way of final remark, how, I wonder, can inconsistency be carried to the point of saying 
that if I wrote Justine, 'twas at the Bastille, and of thrusting me back into a situation worse 
still than the one in which I, as it is alleged, composed the work in question? Here is the 
plainest demonstration that everything done and uttered concerning me proceeded from the 
fanaticism of pious idiots and from the flagrant stupidity of their henchmen. . . . Oh, how 
right was Sophocles when he said: A husband almost always meets with his downfall either 
in the woman he takes for his wife or in the family he allies himself to. 

Consecutive to the foregoing remarks I think it best to join a few touching on Justine, 
remarks I submit to the thick-skulled Ostrogoths who had me imprisoned on account of it. 

Only a small amount of common sense were needed (but have incarcerators any at all?) to 
be convinced that I am not and could not be the author of that book. But, unfortunately, I was 
in the clutches of a flock of imbeciles who always use fetters for arguments and bigotry 
instead of philosophy, and that for the great good reason that it is always much easier to 
impound than to ponder and to pray to God than to be useful to mankind. In the one case 
some virtues are required; only hypocrisy is required in the other. 

After having been once upon a time suspected of a few extravagances of the imagination 
similar to those depicted in Justine, I ask whether it were possible to believe that I would go 

and put pen to paper in order to reveal turpitudes which would necessarily bring my own to 
be recollected. I am guilty of those turpitudes, or else I am not: it must be the one or the 
other. Had I committed them, assuredly I would wrap them in the thickest silence all the rest 
of my life; and if I am only suspected of them without ever having committed them, what 
have I to gain from divulging them when this piece of folly would have for its unique result to 
draw questioning eyes my way? It would be the height of stupidity. And my hatred for my 
tormentors is such I am unwilling to resemble them in that respect. 

But still another more powerful reason will, I hope, speedily convince anyone that I cannot 
be the author of this book. Read it attentively and one will see that through inexcusable 
clumsiness, through a manner of proceeding that was bound to set the author at loggerheads 
with wise man and fool alike, with the good as well as with the wicked, all the philosophical 
personages in this novel are villains to the core. However, I myself am a philosopher; 
everyone acquainted with me will certify that I consider philosophy my profession and my 

glory And can anyone for one instant, save he suppose me mad, can anyone, I say, 

suppose for one minute that I could bring myself to present what I hold to be the noblest of 
all callings, under colors so loathsome and in a shape so execrable? What would you say of 
him who were deliberately to go befoul in the mire the costume he was fondest of and in 
which he thought he struck the finest figure? Is such ineptness even conceivable? Is the like 
anywhere to be seen in my other works? On the contrary, all the villains I have described are 
devout because the devout are all villains and all philosophers decent folk, because most 
decent folk are philosophers. Let me be permitted a reference to the works I speak of. Is there 
in Aline et Valcour a better-behaved, more virtuous, more dutiful creature than Leonore? And 
at the same time is there a more philosophical? Is there anyone in the world more devout 
than my Portuguese? And does the world contain a greater villain? All my fictional persons 
have this tint; I have never departed from this principle. However, I repeat it, the complete 
opposite is manifest in Justine. Therefore it is not true that Justine is my doing. I go farther: 
it cannot possibly be. That is what I have just proven. 

I shall here add something better still: how very odd it is that all the pietistic rabble, all the 
Geoffroys, the Genlis, the Legouves, the Chateaubriands, the La Harpes, the Luce de 
Lancivals, the Villeterques, how odd that all these trustees of the shaveling corporation 
should have flown furiously out at Justine, when that book does nothing but plead in their 
favor. Had they paid someone to write a work denigrating philosophy, they'd not have been 
able to buy anything so well done. And by all that I hold dear in the world I swear I shall 
never forgive myself for having been useful to individuals whom I so prodigiously despise. 

No greater error could there be than to attribute to me a book ... a book violating all my 
principles and of which, by all conceivable evidence, I cannot be the author; and, what is 
more, to make such a to-do over a work which, rightly considered, is but the final paroxysm 
of a diseased imagination with the ravings whereof they stupidly excite everyone's mind by 
crying it up as they do. 

Stung by this inculpation, I have just prepared two works in four volumes 1 each where I 
have assailed, toppled, demolished the insidious sophistries in Justine, pulverized them from 
first to last. But since it is written on high, according to our friend Jacques the Fatalist, 2 that 
men of letters are to be the perpetual victims of stupidity and of folly, my writings are being 
held, their publication is being delayed (and perhaps even prevented) while new editions of 
Justine pour from the press every other week. Bravo, my friends! there'dbe no understanding 
your motions were you to cease your opposition to good and your encouragements to evil. In 
vain did we revolution ourselves to achieve the contrary, 'twas written on high that the most 

violent abuses are ever to hold sway in our France and that so long as any French soil is left 
on the globe, it will be recognizable by the corruption practiced upon it. 

Last Will and Testament (1806) 

Man of Letters 

For the execution of the clauses mentioned here below, I rely upon the filial piety of my 
children, desiring that their own may act with regard to them as they will have done with 
regard to me. 

First: Wishing to give evidence to demoiselle Marie-Constance Reinelle, wife of Monsieur 
Balthasar Quesnet, believed deceased, wishing, as I say, to give evidence to this lady, insofar 
as my poor powers permit, of my extreme gratitude for the care she has given me and the 
sincere friendship she has shown me from the twenty-fifth of August, seventeen hundred 
ninety, to the day of my death, sentiments proffered by her not only with the utmost tact and 
disinterest, but, what is even more, with the most courageous energy, since, during the Reign 
of Terror, she saved me from the revolutionary blade all too surely suspended over my head, 
as everyone knows ; and therefore, for the reasons outlined above, I hereby will and bequeath 
to the said lady Marie-Constance Reinelle, wife of Quesnet, the sum of eighty thousand livres 
in cash from the Tours mint, in whatsoever currency is then in usage in France at the time of 
my demise, wishing and understanding that this sum be deducted from the freest and most 
unattached portion of my legacy, charging my children to deposit it, within the space of a 
month from the day of my decease, with Monsieur Finot, notary at Charenton-Saint-Maurice, 
whom for this purpose I name the executor of my will and whom I charge to utilize the said 
sum in the manner the most secure and advantageous to Madame Quesnet, and in a manner 
susceptible to provide her with an income sufficient for her food and support, which income 
shall be promptly remitted to her on a quarterly basis, shall be transferable and not 
attachable by any person whatsoever, desiring, moreover, that the principal and the sale of 
the above-mentioned bequest be revertible to Charles Quesnet, son of the said dame 
Quesnet, who shall become the proprietor of the total, but only following the demise of his 
worthy mother. 

And this desire which I here express concerning the bequest I make to Madame Quesnet, I 
beseech my children, in the unlikely case that they should seek to evade or shirk their 
responsibility, I beseech them to remember that they had promised the said dame Quesnet a 
sum roughly similar in recognition of the care she took of their father, and as this present 
document merely concurs with and anticipates their initial intentions, any doubt as to their 
acquiescence to my final wishes is forever banished from my mind and will never for a 
moment trouble it further, especially when I reflect upon the filial virtues which have never 
ceased to characterize them and make them full worthy of my paternal sentiments. 

Second: I further leave and bequeath to the aforementioned Madame Quesnet all the 
furniture, effects, linen, clothing, books or papers which are in my chambers at the time of 
my decease, with the exception, however, of my father's papers, which shall be indicated as 
such by labels placed upon the bundles, which papers shall be handed over to my children. 

Third: It is equally my intention and the expression of my last will that the present bequest 
in no wise deprive Madame Marie-Constance Reinelle, wife of Quesnet, of any rights, claims, 
or levies that she may care to make upon my estate, whatever the grounds may be. 

Fourth: I leave and bequeath to Monsieur Finot, the executor of my last will and testament, a 
ring valued at twelve hundred livres, in return for the trouble which the execution of the 
present act shall have occasioned him. 

Fifth: Finally, I absolutely forbid that my body be opened upon any pretext whatsoever. I 
urgently insist that it be kept a full forty-eight hours in the chamber where I shall have died, 
placed in a wooden coffin which shall not be nailed shut until the prescribed forty-eight 
hours have elapsed, at the end of which period the said coffin shall be nailed shut; during this 
interval a message shall be sent express to M. Le Normand, wood seller in Versailles, living at 
number 101, boulevard de l'Egalite, requesting him to come in his own person, with a cart, to 
fetch my body away and to convey it under his own escort and in the said cart to the wood 
upon my property at Malmaison near Epernon, in the commune of Emance where I would 
have it laid to rest, without ceremony of any kind, in the first copse standing to the right as 
the said wood is entered from the side of the old chateau by way of the broad lane dividing it. 
The ditch opened in this copse shall be dug by the farmer tenant of Malmaison under M. Le 
Normand's supervision, who shall not leave my body until after he has placed it in the said 
ditch; upon this occasion he may, if he so wishes, be accompanied by those among my 
kinsmen or friends who without display or pomp of any sort whatsoever shall have been kind 
enough to give me this last proof of their attachment. The ditch once covered over, above it 
acorns shall be strewn, in order that the spot become green again, and the copse grown back 
thick over it, the traces of my grave may disappear from the face of the earth as I trust the 
memory of me shall fade out of the minds of all men save nevertheless for those few who in 
their goodness have loved me until the last and of whom I carry away a sweet remembrance 
with me to the grave. 

Done at Charenton-Saint-Maurice in a state of reason and good health this thirtieth day of 
January in the year one thousand eight hundred six. 


Two Philosophical Dialogues 

Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man 


Until the recent discovery of Volume I of Sade's miscellaneous works (oeuvres diverses), 
which contains his early occasional prose and verse, as well as his one-act play, Le 
Philosophe soi-disant, and an epistolary work, Voyage de Hollande, the Dialogue between a 
Priest and a Dying Man was his earliest known work to be dated with certainty. Sade 
completed it, or completed the notebook which contains it, on July 12, 1782, during the 
fourth year of his second imprisonment in Vincennes. It is one of the most incisive works of 
Sade, who is not especially noted for his concision, and is contemporary to The 120 Days of 
Sodom, upon which it is known that he was hard at work that same year. Like The 120 Days, 
the Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man did not figure in Sade's 1788 Catalogue 
raisonne, which was limited to works he wished publicly to acknowledge. 

The Dialogue did not appear until more than a century after Sade's death. In the course of 
the nineteenth century, the notebook containing it was sold and resold on a number of 
occasions at various auctions of autograph manuscripts, and in 1920 Maurice Heine was 
fortunate enough to be able to purchase it at a sale held on November 6 at Paris' Hotel 
Drouot. Six years later he published it with an exhaustive introduction. 1 Since it is included 
in a notebook containing primarily rough drafts, notes, and jottings, Lely raises the question 
as to whether this work was ever polished or reworked to the author's satisfaction. Heine's 
observation, however, that the manuscript was written in a "firm, legible hand, with few 
words crossed out" would indicate that Sade may well have been satisfied with its 
composition. In any event, the work needs no apology. 

What may most astonish the reader about the Dialogue is the author's failure to 
acknowledge it. For, compared to much of his other writing, it seems tame indeed, despite 
the ferocity of its attack on the deity and the clerical establishment. As Heine points out, 
however, one may tend to give the Age of Reason, from the vantage point of the present 
century, more than its due. In fact, Sade's position on the subject of religion was far more 
radical than that of most of his contemporaries, even the most enlightened. When, in the 
Encyclopedia of 1751, and under their own signatures, Diderot and d'Alembert can 
pronounce themselves in the following terms, it is easier to understand Sade's reticence: 

Even the more tolerant of men will not deny that the judge has the right to repress 
those who profess atheism, and even to condemn them to death if there is no other 

way of freeing society from them If he can punish those who harm a single 

person, he doubtless has as much a right to punish those who wrong an entire 

society by denying that there is a God Such a man may be considered as an 

enemy of all men. 2 

In the light of the above, one reads the Dialogue with a wider respect for the audacity and 
uncompromising nature of Sade's mind. 

PRIEST— Come to this the fatal hour when at last from the eyes of deluded man the scales 
must fall away, and be shown the cruel picture of his errors and his vices— say, my son, do 
you not repent the host of sins unto which you were led by weakness and human frailty? 

DYING MAN— Yes, my friend, I do repent. 

PRIEST— Rejoice then in these pangs of remorse, during the brief space remaining to you 
profit therefrom to obtain Heaven's general absolution for your sins, and be mindful of it, 
only through the mediation of the Most Holy Sacrament of penance will you be granted it by 
the Eternal. 

DYING MAN— I do not understand you, any more than you have understood me. 

DYING MAN— I told you that I repented. 
PRIEST-I heard you say it. 
DYING MAN— Yes, but without understanding it. 
PRIEST-My interpretation- 

DYING MAN— Hold. I shall give you mine. By Nature created, created with very keen 
tastes, with very strong passions; placed on this earth for the sole purpose of yielding to them 
and satisfying them, and these effects of my creation being naught but necessities directly 
relating to Nature's fundamental designs or, if you prefer, naught but essential derivatives 
proceeding from her intentions in my regard, all in accordance with her laws, I repent not 
having acknowledged her omnipotence as fully as I might have done, I am only sorry for the 
modest use I made of the faculties (criminal in your view, perfectly ordinary in mine) she 
gave me to serve her; I did sometimes resist her, I repent it. Misled by your absurd doctrines, 
with them for arms I mindlessly challenged the desires instilled in me by a much diviner 
inspiration, and thereof do I repent: I only plucked an occasional flower when I might have 
gathered an ample harvest of fruit— such are the just grounds for the regrets I have, do me 
the honor of considering me incapable of harboring any others. 

PRIEST— Lo! where your fallacies take you, to what pass are you brought by your 
sophistries! To created being you ascribe all the Creator's power, and those unlucky 
penchants which have led you astray, ah! do you not see they are merely the products of 
corrupted nature, to which you attribute omnipotence? 

DYING MAN— Friend— it looks to me as though your dialectic were as false as your 
thinking. Pray straighten your arguing or else leave me to die in peace. What do you mean by 
Creator, and what do you mean by corrupted nature? 

PRIEST— The Creator is the master of the universe, 'tis He who has wrought everything, 
everything created, and who maintains it all through the mere fact of His omnipotence. 

DYING MAN— An impressive figure indeed. Tell me now why this so very formidable 

fellow did nevertheless, as you would have it, create a corrupted nature? 

PRIEST— What glory would men ever have, had not God left them free will; and in the 
enjoyment thereof, what merit could come to them, were there not on earth the possibility of 
doing good and that of avoiding evil? 

DYING MAN— And so your god bungled his work deliberately, in order to tempt or test his 
creature— did he then not know, did he then not doubt what the result would be? 

PRIEST— He knew it undoubtedly but, once again, he wished to leave to man the merit of 

DYING MAN— And to what purpose, since from the outset he knew the course affairs 
would take and since, all-mighty as you tell me he is, he had but to make his creature choose 
as suited him? 

PRIEST— Who is there can penetrate God's vast and infinite designs regarding man, and 
who can grasp all that makes up the universal scheme? 

DYING MAN— Anyone who simplifies matters, my friend, anyone, above all, who refrains 
from multiplying causes in order to confuse effects all the more. What need have you of a 
second difficulty when you are unable to resolve the first, and once it is possible that Nature 
may all alone have done what you attribute to your god, why must you go looking for 
someone to be her overlord? The cause and explanation of what you do not understand may 
perhaps be the simplest thing in the world. Perfect your physics and you will understand 
Nature better, refine your reason, banish your prejudices and you'll have no further need of 
your god. 

PRIEST— Wretched man! I took you for no worse than a Socinian— arms I had to combat 
you. But 'tis clear you are an atheist, and seeing that your heart is shut to the authentic and 
innumerable proofs we receive every day of our lives of the Creator's existence— I have no 
more to say to you. There is no restoring the blind to the light. 

DYING MAN— Softly, my friend, own that between the two, he who blindfolds himself 
must surely see less of the light than he who snatches the blindfold away from his eyes. You 
compose, you construct, you dream, you magnify and complicate; I sift, I simplify. You 
accumulate errors, pile one atop the other; I combat them all. Which one of us is blind? 

PRIEST-Then you do not believe in God at all? 

DYING MAN— No. And for one very sound reason: it is perfectly impossible to believe in 
what one does not understand. Between understanding and faith immediate connections 
must subsist; understanding is the very lifeblood of faith; where understanding has ceased, 
faith is dead; and when they who are in such a case proclaim they have faith, they deceive. 
You yourself, preacher, I defy you to believe in the god you predicate to me— you must fail 
because you cannot demonstrate him to me, because it is not in you to define him to me, 
because consequently you do not understand him— because as of the moment you do not 
understand him, you can no longer furnish me any reasonable argument concerning him, and 

because, in sum, anything beyond the limits and grasp of the human mind is either illusion 
or futility; and because your god having to be one or the other of the two, in the first instance 
I should be mad to believe in him, in the second a fool. My friend, prove to me that matter is 
inert and I will grant you a creator, prove to me that Nature does not suffice to herself and I'll 
let you imagine her ruled by a higher force; until then, expect nothing from me, I bow to 
evidence only, and evidence I perceive only through my senses: my belief goes no farther 
than they, beyond that point my faith collapses. I believe in the sun because I see it, I 
conceive it as the focal center of all the inflammable matter in Nature, its periodic movement 
pleases but does not amaze me. 'Tis a mechanical operation, perhaps as simple as the 
workings of electricity, but which we are unable to understand. Need I bother more about it? 
when you have roofed everything over with your god, will I be any the better off? and shall I 
still not have to make an effort at least as great to understand the artisan as to define his 
handiwork? By edifying your chimera it is thus no service you have rendered me, you have 
made me uneasy in my mind but you have not enlightened it, and instead of gratitude I owe 
you resentment. Your god is a machine you fabricated in your passions' behalf, you 
manipulated it to their liking; but the day it interfered with mine, I kicked it out of my way, 
deem it fitting that I did so; and now, at this moment when I sink and my soul stands in need 
of calm and philosophy, belabor it not with your riddles and your cant, which alarm but will 
not convince it, which will irritate without improving it; good friends and on the best terms 
have we ever been, this soul and I, so Nature wished it to be; as it is, so she expressly 
modeled it, for my soul is the result of the dispositions she formed in me pursuant to her 
own ends and needs; and as she has an equal need of vices and of virtues, whenever she was 
pleased to move me to evil, she did so, whenever she wanted a good deed from me, she 
roused in me the desire to perform one, and even so I did as I was bid. Look nowhere but to 
her workings for the unique cause of our fickle human behavior, and in her laws hope to find 
no other springs than her will and her requirements. 

PRIEST— And so whatever is in this world, is necessary. 

DYING MAN— Exactly. 

PRIEST— But if everything is necessary— then the whole is regulated. 
DYING MAN— I am not the one to deny it. 

PRIEST— And what can regulate the whole save it be an all-powerful and all-knowing 

DYING MAN— Say, is it not necessary that gunpowder ignite when you set a spark to it? 

DYING MAN— And do you find any presence of wisdom in that? 

DYING MAN— It is then possible that things necessarily come about without being 
determined by a superior intelligence, and possible hence that everything derive logically 

from a primary cause, without there being either reason or wisdom in that primary cause. 
PRIEST- What are you aiming at? 

DYING MAN— At proving to you that the world and all therein may be what it is and as you 
see it to be, without any wise and reasoning cause directing it, and that natural effects must 
have natural causes: natural causes sufficing, there is no need to invent any such unnatural 
ones as your god who himself, as I have told you already, would require to be explained and 
who would at the same time be the explanation of nothing; and that once 'tis plain your god 
is superfluous, he is perfectly useless; that what is useless would greatly appear to be 
imaginary only, null and therefore nonexistent; thus, to conclude that your god is a fiction I 
need no other argument than that which furnishes me the certitude of his inutility. 

PRIEST— At that rate there is no great need for me to talk to you about religion. 

DYING MAN— True, but why not anyhow? Nothing so much amuses me as this sign of the 
extent to which human beings have been carried away by fanaticism and stupidity; although 
the prodigious spectacle of folly we are facing here may be horrible, it is always interesting. 
Answer me honestly, and endeavor to set personal considerations aside: were I weak enough 
to fall victim to your silly theories concerning the fabulous existence of the being who 
renders religion necessary, under what form would you advise me to worship him? Would 
you have me adopt the daydreams of Confucius rather than the absurdities of Brahma, 
should I kneel before the great snake to which the Blacks pray, invoke the Peruvians' sun or 
Moses' Lord of Hosts, to which Mohammedan sect should I rally, or which Christian heresy 
would be preferable in your view? Be careful how you reply. 

PRIEST-Can it be doubtful? 

DYING MAN— Then 'tis egoistical. 

PRIEST— No, my son, 'tis as much out of love for thee as for myself I urge thee to embrace 
my creed. 

DYING MAN— And I wonder how the one or the other of us can have much love for 
himself, to deign to listen to such degrading nonsense. 

PRIEST— But who can be mistaken about the miracles wrought by our Divine Redeemer? 

DYING MAN— He who sees in him anything else than the most vulgar of all tricksters and 
the most arrant of all impostors. 

PRIEST— O God, you hear him and your wrath thunders not forth! 

DYING MAN— No my friend, all is peace and quiet around us, because your god, be it from 
impotence or from reason or from whatever you please, is a being whose existence I shall 
momentarily concede out of condescension for you or, if you prefer, in order to accommodate 
myself to your sorry little perspective; because this god, I say, were he to exist, as you are 
mad enough to believe, could not have selected as means to persuade us, anything more 

ridiculous than those your Jesus incarnates. 

PRIEST— What! the prophecies, the miracles, the martyrs— are they not so many proofs? 

DYING MAN— How, so long as I abide by the rules of logic, how would you have me accept 
as proof anything which itself is lacking proof? Before a prophecy could constitute proof I 
should first have to be completely certain it was ever pronounced; the prophecies history tells 
us of belong to history and for me they can only have the force of other historical facts, 
whereof three out of four are exceedingly dubious; if to this I add the strong probability that 
they have been transmitted to us by not very objective historians, who recorded what they 
preferred to have us read, I shall be quite within my rights if I am skeptical. And furthermore, 
who is there to assure me that this prophecy was not made after the fact, that it was not a 
stratagem of everyday political scheming, like that which predicts a happy reign under a just 
king, or frost in wintertime? As for your miracles, I am not any readier to be taken in by such 
rubbish. All rascals have performed them, all fools have believed in them; before I'd be 
persuaded of the truth of a miracle I would have to be very sure the event so called by you 
was absolutely contrary to the laws of Nature, for only what is outside of Nature can pass for 
miraculous; and who is so deeply learned in Nature that he can affirm the precise point 
where her domain ends, and the precise point where it is infringed upon? Only two things are 
needed to accredit an alleged miracle, a mountebank and a few simpletons; tush, there's the 
whole origin of your prodigies; all new adherents to a religious sect have wrought some; and 
more extraordinary still, all have found imbeciles around to believe them. Your Jesus' feats 
do not surpass those of Apollonius of Tyana, yet nobody thinks to take the latter for a god; 
and when we come to your martyrs, assuredly, these are the feeblest of all your arguments. 
To produce martyrs you need but have enthusiasm on the one hand, resistance on the other; 
and so long as an opposed cause offers me as many of them as does yours, I shall never be 
sufficiently authorized to believe one better than another, but rather very much inclined to 
consider all of them pitiable. Ah my friend! were it true that the god you preach did exist, 
would he need miracle, martyr, or prophecy to secure recognition? and if, as you declare, the 
human heart were of his making, would he not have chosen it for the repository of his law? 
Then would this law, impartial for all mankind because emanating from a just god, then 
would it be found graved deep and writ clear in all men alike, and from one end of the world 
to the other, all men, having this delicate and sensitive organ in common, would also 
resemble each other through the homage they would render the god whence they had got it; 
all would adore and serve him in one identical manner, and they would be as incapable of 
disregarding this god as of resisting the inward impulse to worship him. Instead of that, what 
do I behold throughout this world? As many gods as there are countries; as many different 
cults as there are different minds or different imaginations; and this swarm of opinions 
among which it is physically impossible for me to choose, say now, is this a just god's doing? 
Fie upon you, preacher, you outrage your god when you present him to me thus; rather let 
me deny him completely, for if he exists then I outrage him far less by my incredulity than do 
you through your blasphemies. Return to your senses, preacher, your Jesus is no better than 
Mohammed, Mohammed no better than Moses, and the three of them combined no better 
than Confucius, who did after all have some wise things to say while the others did naught 
but rave; in general, though, such people are all mere frauds: philosophers laughed at them, 
the mob believed them, and justice ought to have hanged them. 

PRIEST— Alas, justice dealt only too harshly with one of the four. 

DYING MAN— If he alone got what he deserved it was he deserved it most richly; seditious, 
turbulent, calumniating, dishonest, libertine, a clumsy buffoon, and very mischievous; he had 
the art of overawing common folk and stirring up the rabble; and hence came in line for 
punishment in a kingdom where the state of affairs was what it was in Jerusalem then. They 
were very wise indeed to get rid of him, and this perhaps is the one case in which my 
extremely lenient and also extremely tolerant maxims are able to allow the severity of 
Themis; I excuse any misbehavior save that which may endanger the government one lives 
under, kings and their majesties are the only things I respect; and whoever does not love his 
country and his king were better dead than alive. 

PRIEST— But you do surely believe something awaits us after this life, you must at some 
time or another have sought to pierce the dark shadows enshrouding our mortal fate, and 
what other theory could have satisfied your anxious spirit, than that of the numberless woes 
that betide him who has lived wickedly, and an eternity of rewards for him whose life has 
been good? 

DYING MAN— What other, my friend? that of nothingness, it has never held terrors for 
me, in it I see naught but what is consoling and unpretentious; all the other theories are of 
pride's composition, this one alone is of reason's. Moreover, 'tis neither dreadful nor 
absolute, this nothingness. Before my eyes have I not the example of Nature's perpetual 
generations and regenerations? Nothing perishes in the world, my friend, nothing is lost; 
man today, worm tomorrow, the day after tomorrow a fly; is it not to keep steadily on 
existing? And what entitles me to be rewarded for virtues which are in me through no fault of 
my own, or again punished for crimes wherefor the ultimate responsibility is not mine? how 
are you to put your alleged god's goodness into tune with this system, and can he have 
wished to create me in order to reap pleasure from punishing me, and that solely on account 
of a choice he does not leave me free to determine? 

PRIEST-You are free. 

DYING MAN— Yes, in terms of your prejudices; but reason puts them to rout, and the 
theory of human freedom was never devised except to fabricate that of grace, which was to 
acquire such importance for your reveries. What man on earth, seeing the scaffold a step 
beyond the crime, would commit it were he free not to commit it? We are the pawns of an 
irresistible force, and never for an instant is it within our power to do anything but make the 
best of our lot and forge ahead along the path that has been traced for us. There is not a 
single virtue which is not necessary to Nature and conversely not a single crime which she 
does not need and it is in the perfect balance she maintains between the one and the other 
that her immense science consists; but can we be guilty for adding our weight to this side or 
that when it is she who tosses us onto the scales? no more so than the hornet who thrusts his 
dart into your skin. 

PRIEST— Then we should not shrink from the worst of all crimes. 

DYING MAN— I say nothing of the kind. Let the evil deed be proscribed by law, let justice 
smite the criminal, that will be deterrent enough; but if by misfortune we do commit it even 

so, let's not cry over spilled milk; remorse is inefficacious, since it does not stay us from 
crime, futile since it does not repair it, therefore it is absurd to beat one's breast, more absurd 
still to dread being punished in another world if we have been lucky to escape it in this. God 
forbid that this be construed as encouragement to crime, no, we should avoid it as much as 
we can, but one must learn to shun it through reason and not through false fears which lead 
to naught and whose effects are so quickly overcome in any moderately steadfast soul. 
Reason, sir— yes, our reason alone should warn us that harm done our fellows can never 
bring happiness to us; and our heart, that contributing to their felicity is the greatest joy 
Nature has accorded us on earth; the entirety of human morals is contained in this one 
phrase: Render others as happy as one desires oneself to be, and never inflict more pain upon 
them than one would like to receive at their hands. There you are, my friend, those are the 
only principles we should observe, and you need neither god nor religion to appreciate and 
subscribe to them, you need only have a good heart. But I feel my strength ebbing away; 
preacher, put away your prejudices, unbend, be a man, be human, without fear and without 
hope forget your gods and your religions too: they are none of them good for anything but to 
set man at odds with man, and the mere name of these horrors has caused greater loss of life 
on earth than all other wars and all other plagues combined. Renounce the idea of another 
world; there is none, but do not renounce the pleasure of being happy and of making for 
happiness in this. Nature offers you no other way of doubling your existence, of extending it. 
—My friend, lewd pleasures were ever dearer to me than anything else, I have idolized them 
all my life and my wish has been to end it in their bosom; my end draws near, six women 
lovelier than the light of day are waiting in the chamber adjoining, I have reserved them for 
this moment, partake of the feast with me, following my example embrace them instead of 
the vain sophistries of superstition, under their caresses strive for a little while to forget your 
hypocritical beliefs. 


The dying man rang, the women entered; and after he had been a little while in their arms 
the preacher became one whom Nature has corrupted, all because he had not succeeded in 
explaining what a corrupt nature is. 

Philosophy in the Bedroom (1795) 

The year 1795 was a fruitful and auspicious one for Sade. Almost miraculously, he had 
survived the Reign of Terror and, just six weeks after the execution of Robespierre, was once 
again set free, on October 15, 1794. Sade 's printer, Girouard, who had published Justine and, 
before his arrest under the Terror had been preparing Aline et Valcour for publication, had 
not been so lucky: on January 8, 1794, he went to the guillotine. 

After Sade regained his freedom, he managed to retrieve that portion of Aline et Valcour 
which Girouard had already printed prior to his arrest, and by mid-summer of 1795 the first 
edition of this four-volume work, which Sade acknowledged, was published. 

This same year there also appeared a small format, two-volume work, of anonymous 
authorship, enticingly entitled La Philosophic dans le boudoir. Although anonymous, it was 
offered as a "posthumous work by the author of Justine," a subterfuge Sade was to utilize 
two years later for the publication of La Nouvelle Justine. The place of publication of the 
original edition was given as Londres, aux depens de la Compagnie, and besides an 
allegorical frontispiece, it contained four erotic engravings. The epigraph of the original 
edition is La mere en prescrira la lecture a sa fille (Mothers will make this volume 
mandatory reading for their daughters). A second edition, in two octavo volumes of 203 and 
191 pages respectively, appeared ten years later, in 1805, with the added subtitle— for which 
Sade, then in the Charenton asylum, can scarcely have been responsible— ou les Instituteurs 
immoraux (or The Immoral Teachers). Curiously, the epigraph of this second edition 
appeared— whether the change was intentional or not is a moot point— as La mere en 
proscrira la lecture a sa fille (Mothers will forbid their daughters to read it). 

Together with the Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man, the Philosophy in the 
Bedroom is the only other nontheatrical work ofSade's written in the form of dialogue. 
Consisting of seven "Dialogues," in which philosophical speculations and dissertations on 
morality, history, and religion commingle with typical Sadean sexual fantasies, this work is 
one of the most specific, eloquent, and least redundant ofSade's major fictions. The four 
protagonists are Eugenie de Mistival, a chaste fifteen-year-old, a virgin and neophyte who is 
to be initiated into the mysteries of sensual pleasure; twenty -six-year-old Madame de Saint- 
Ange, a woman "of extreme lubricity"'; her brother, the Chevalier deMirvel, also a 
debauchee of considerable talents but who, unlike his sister and the fourth protagonist, 
Dolmance ("The most corrupt and dangerous of men"), draws the line at the boundary of 
cruelty. All three of the initiators, with the possible exception of the Chevalier, who is still 
wrestling with his soul on the question of inflicting cruelty, would qualify as Sade's Unique 
Beings, of whom Maurice Blanchot makes mention in his Introduction. And, by the end of 
the day, Eugenie too, the aptest of pupils, is well on her way along the path of libertinage, 
that is (in Sade s canon), of freedom. 

The economy and disposition of the four principal characters enable Sade to expound his 
views both positively and negatively, for teaching, initiating the neophyte, is not only 
instructing but also disabusing: one must rid Eugenie's pretty little head of all the false 
notions of religion, morality, and virtue which a hypocritical mother and false society have 
instilled in her since birth. 

The long "Fifth Dialogue" of this work contains the well-known "Yet Another Effort, 
Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans," which Le Chevalier reads aloud. Although it 

may detract from the otherwise considerable unity of the work, this "pamphlet" 1 is a work of 
considerable force, and perhaps the most eloquent refutation to those who accuse Sade of, or 
simplistically assimilate him to, the forces of evil and darkness which our century has 
spawned: fascism. The scope and complexity ofSade's ideas— independently of their 
individual merit or lack of merit— are such that they abound in contradictions and 
paradoxes, and may be quoted to prove or demonstrate a vast spectrum of opinion. But one 
thing is certain: Sade was for fewer laws, not more; for less restrictive social restraints on 
the individual, not more oppressive ones. As Maurice Heine has noted: 

It is with the individual, with the countless individuals who go to make up human 
societies, that Sade has placed the only organic strength these societies may possess. 
. . . He offers a withering criticism of any social restraints which reduce to whatever 
slight degree the activity of the incoercible human element. In his eyes, the only 
thing which will lead him to accept not a social pact but a social compromise— 
which can be denounced and renewed at any time— is the self-interest of the 
individual. For him, any society which fails to understand this fundamental truth 
is destined to perish. 

In the light of Krafft-Ebing, Freud, or the detailed case histories ofWilhelm Stekel, the 
Philosophy in the Bedroom may appear somewhat less audacious than it did to previous 
generations (or those select few of the earlier generations who clandestinely were able to 
read it). That it is one ofSade's most seminal and compelling works there can be no doubt. It 
possesses another virtue: from one end to the other, there reigns a humor— a black and often 
grotesque humor, admittedly— which one looks for in vain in his strictly theatrical 
productions, and which perhaps exists nowhere else in his writing with such eclat, save in 
his extraordinary letters. 




Voluptuaries of all ages, of every sex, it is to you only that I offer this work; nourish 
yourselves upon its principles: they favor your passions, and these passions, whereof coldly 
insipid moralists put you in fear, are naught but the means Nature employs to bring man to 
the ends she prescribes to him; harken only to these delicious promptings, for no voice save 
that of the passions can conduct you to happiness. 

Lewd women, let the voluptuous Saint-Ange be your model; after her example, be heedless 
of all that contradicts pleasure's divine laws, by which all her life she was enchained. 

You young maidens, too long constrained by a fanciful Virtue's absurd and dangerous 
bonds and by those of a disgusting religion, imitate the fiery Eugenie; be as quick as she to 
destroy, to spurn all those ridiculous precepts inculcated in you by imbecile parents. 

And you, amiable debauchees, you who since youth have known no limits but those of 
your desires and who have been governed by your caprices alone, study the cynical 
Dolmance, proceed like him and go as far as he if you too would travel the length of those 
flowered ways your lechery prepares for you; in Dolmance's academy be at last convinced it 
is only by exploring and enlarging the sphere of his tastes and whims, it is only by 
sacrificing everything to the senses' pleasure that this individual, who never asked to be cast 
into this universe of woe, that this poor creature who goes under the name of Man, may be 
able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life. 



MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Good day, my friend. And what of Monsieur Dolmance? 

LE CHEVALIER— He'll be here promptly at four; we do not dine until seven— and will 
have, as you see, ample time to chat. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— You know, my dear brother, I do begin to have a few 
misgivings about my curiosity and all the obscene plans scheduled for today. Chevalier, you 
overindulge me, truly you do. The more sensible I should be, the more excited and libertine 
this accursed mind of mine becomes— and all that you have given me but serves to spoil me. . 
. . At twenty-six, I should be sober and staid, and I'm still nothing but the most licentious of 
women. . . . Oh, I've a busy brain, my friend; you'd scarce believe the ideas I have, the things 
I'd like to do. I supposed that by confining myself to women I would become better behaved . 
. . ; that were my desires concentrated upon my own sex I would no longer pant after yours: 
pure fantasy, my friend; my imagination has only been pricked the more by the pleasures I 
thought to deprive myself of. I have discovered that when it is a question of someone like me, 
born for libertinage, it is useless to think of imposing limits or restraints upon oneself— 
impetuous desires immediately sweep them away. In a word, my dear, I am an amphibious 
creature: I love everything, everyone, whatever it is, it amuses me; I should like to combine 
every species— but you must admit, Chevalier, is it not the height of extravagance for me to 
wish to know this unusual Dolmance who in all his life, you tell me, has been unable to see a 
woman according to the prescriptions of common usage, this Dolmance who, a sodomite out 
of principle, not only worships his own sex but never yields to ours save when we consent to 
put at his disposal those so well beloved charms of which he habitually makes use when 
consorting with men? Tell me, Chevalier, if my fancy is not bizarre! I want to be Ganymede to 
this new Jupiter, I want to enjoy his tastes, his debauches, I want to be the victim of his 
errors. Until now, and well you know it, my friend, until now I have given myself thus only to 
you, through complaisance, or to a few of my servants who, paid to use me in this manner, 
adopted it for profit only. But today it is no longer the desire to oblige nor is it caprice that 
moves me, but solely my own penchants. I believe that, between my past experiences with 
this curious mania and the courtesies to which I am going to be subjected, there is an 
inconceivable difference, and I wish to be acquainted with it. Paint your Dolmance for me, 
please do, that I may have him well fixed in my mind before I see him arrive; for you know 
my acquaintance with him is limited to an encounter the other day in a house where we were 
together for but a few minutes. 

LE CHEVALIER— Dolmance, my dear sister, has just turned thirty-six; he is tall, extremely 
handsome, eyes very alive and very intelligent, but all the same there is some suspicion of 
hardness, and a trace of wickedness in his features; he has the whitest teeth in the world, a 
shade of softness about his figure and in his attitude, doubtless owing to his habit of taking 
on effeminate airs so often; he is extremely elegant, has a pretty voice, many talents, and 
above all else an exceedingly philosophic bent to his mind. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- But I trust he does not believe in God! 

LE CHEVALIER— Oh, perish the thought! He is the most notorious atheist, the most 

immoral fellow Oh, no; his is the most complete and thoroughgoing corruption, and he 

the most evil individual, the greatest scoundrel in the world. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Ah, how that warms me! Methinks that I'll be wild about 
this man. And what of his fancies, brother? 

LE CHEVALIER— You know them full well; Sodom's delights are as dear to him in their 
active as in their passive form. For his pleasures, he cares for none but men; if however he 
sometimes deigns to employ women, it is only upon condition they be obliging enough to 
exchange sex with him. I've spoken of you to him; I advised him of your intentions, he 
agrees, and in his turn reminds you of the rules of the game. I warn you, my dear, he will 
refuse you altogether if you attempt to engage him to undertake anything else. "What I 
consent to do with your sister is," he declares, "an extravagance, an indiscretion with which 
one soils oneself but rarely and only by taking ample precautions." 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE-SozV oneself! . . . Precautions! ... Oh, how I adore the 
language those agreeable persons use! Between ourselves, we women also have exclusive 
words which like these just spoken, give an idea of the profound horror they have of all those 
who show heretical tendencies. . . . Tell me, my dear, has he had you? With your adorable face 
and your twenty years, one may, I dare say, captivate such a man? 

LE CHEVALIER— We've committed follies together— I'll not hide them from you; you have 
too much wit to condemn them. The fact is, I favor women; I only give myself up to these odd 
whimsies when an attractive man urges me to them. And then there's nothing I stop at. I've 
none of that ludicrous arrogance which makes our young upstarts believe that it's by cuts 
with your walking stick you respond to such propositions. Is man master of his penchants? 
One must feel sorry for those who have strange tastes, but never insult them. Their wrong is 
Nature's too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies 
unlike ours than are we for being born bandy-legged or well-proportioned. Is it, however, that 
a man acts insultingly to you when he manifests his desire to enjoy you? No, surely not; it is 
a compliment you are paid; why then answer with injuries and insults? Only fools can think 
thus; never will you hear an intelligent man discuss the question in a manner different from 
mine; but the trouble is, the world is peopled with poor idiots who believe it is to lack respect 
for them to avow one finds them fitted for one's pleasures, and who, pampered by women— 
themselves forever jealous of what has the look of infringing upon their rights—, fancy 
themselves to be the Don Quixotes of those ordinary rights, and brutalize whoever does not 
acknowledge the entirety of their extent. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Come, my friend, kiss me. Were you to think otherwise, 
you'd not be my brother. A few details, I beseech you, both with what regards this man's 
appearance and his pleasures with you. 

LE CHEVALIER— One of his friends informed Monsieur Dolmance of the superb member 
wherewith you know me provided, and he obtained the consent of the Marquis de V*** to 
bring us together at supper. Once there, I was obliged to display my equipment: at first 
curiosity appeared to be his single motive; however, a very fair ass turned my way, and with 
which I was invited to amuse myself, soon made me see that penchant alone was the cause of 

this examination. I had Dolmance notice all the enterprise's difficulties; he was steadfast. "A 
ram holds no terrors for me," he said, "and you'll not have even the glory of being the most 
formidable amongst the men who have perforated the anus I offer you." The Marquis was on 
hand; he encouraged us by fingering, dandling, kissing whatever the one or the other of us 
brought to light. I took up my position. . . . "Surely some kind of priming?" I urged. "Nothing 
of the sort," said the Marquis, "you'll rob Dolmance of half the sensations he awaits from 
you; he wants you to cleave him in two, he wants to be torn asunder." "Well," I said, blindly 
plunging into the gulf, "he'll be satisfied." Perhaps, my dear sister, you think that I met with a 
great deal of trouble . . . not at all; my prick, enormous as it is, disappeared, contrary to all my 
expectations, and I touched the bottom of his entrails without the bugger seeming to feel a 
thing. I dealt kindly with Dolmance; the extreme ecstasy he tasted, his wrigglings and 
quiverings, his enticing utterances, all this soon made me happy too, and I inundated him. 
Scarcely was I withdrawn when Dolmance, turning toward me, his hair in disarray and his 
face red as a bacchante : "You see the state you've put me in, my dear Chevalier," said he, 
simultaneously presenting a pert, tough rogue of a prick, very long and at least six inches 
around, "deign, O my love, deign to serve me as a woman after having been my lover, and 
enable me to say that in your divine arms I have tasted all the delights of the fancy I cherish 
supremely." Finding as little difficulty in the one as in the other, I readied myself; the 
Marquis, dropping his breeches before my eyes, begged me to have the kindness to be yet a 
little of the man with him while I played wife to his friend; and I dealt with him as I had with 
Dolmance, who paid me back a hundredfold for all the blows wherewith I belabored our 
third; and soon, into the depths of my ass, he exhaled that enchanted liquor with which, at 
virtually the same instant, I sprayed the bowels of V***. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— You must have known the most extreme pleasure, to find 
yourself thus between two; they say it is charming. 

LE CHEVALIER— My angel, it is surely the best place to be; but whatever may be said of 
them, they're all extravagances which I should never prefer to the pleasure of women. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Well, my chivalrous friend, as reward for your touching 
consideration, today I am going to hand over to your passions a young virgin, a girl, more 
beautiful than Love itself. 

LE CHEVALIER— What! With Dolmance. . . you're bringing a woman here? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— It is a matter of an education; that of a little thing I knew 
last autumn at the convent, while my husband was at the baths. We could accomplish 
nothing there, we dared try nothing, too many eyes were fixed upon us, but we made a 
promise to meet again, to get together as soon as possible. Occupied with nothing but this 
desire, I have, in order to satisfy it, become acquainted with her family. Her father is a 
libertine— I've enthralled him. At any rate, the lovely one is coming, I am waiting for her; 
we'll spend two days together . . . two delicious days; I shall employ the better part of the time 
educating the young lady. Dolmance and I will put into this pretty little head every principle 
of the most unbridled libertinage, we will set her ablaze with our own fire, we will feed her 
upon our philosophy, inspire her with our desires, and as I wish to join a little practice to 
theory, as I like the demonstrations to keep abreast of the dissertations, I have destined to 
you, dear brother, the harvest of Cythera's myrtle, and to Dolmance shall go the roses of 

Sodom. I'll have two pleasures at once: that of enjoying these criminal lecheries myself, and 
that of giving the lessons, of inspiring fancies in the sweet innocent I am luring into our nets. 
Very well, Chevalier, answer me: is the project worthy of my imagination? 

LE CHEVALIER— It could not have risen in another: it is divine, my sister, and I promise 
to enact to perfection the charming role you reserve for me. Ah, mischievous one, how much 
pleasure you are going to take in educating this child; what pleasure you will find in 
corrupting her, in stifling within this young heart every seed of virtue and of religion planted 
there by her tutors! Actually, all this is too roue for me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Be certain I'll spare nothing to pervert her, degrade her, 
demolish in her all the false ethical notions with which they may already have been able to 
dizzy her; in two lessons, I want to render her as criminal as am I ... as impious ... as 
debauched, as depraved. Notify Dolmance, explain everything to him immediately he gets 
here so that his immoralities' poison, circulating in this young spirit together with the venom 
I shall inject, will in the shortest possible time wither and still all the seeds of virtue that, but 
for us, might germinate there. 

LE CHEVALIER— It would be impossible to find a better man: irreligion, impiety, 
inhumanity, libertinage spill from Dolmance's lips as in times past mystic unction fell from 
those of the celebrated Archbishop of Cambrai. He is the most profound seducer, the most 

corrupt, the most dangerous man Ah, my dear, let your pupil but comply with this 

teacher's instructions, and I guarantee her straightway damned. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— It should certainly not take long, considering the 
dispositions I know her to possess 

LE CHEVALIER— But tell me, my dear sister, is there nothing to fear from the parents? 
May not this little one chatter when she returns home? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Have no fears. I have seduced the father . . . he's mine. I 
must confess to you, I surrendered myself to him in order to close his eyes: he knows nothing 
of my designs, and will never dare to scan them I have him. 

LE CHEVALIER- Your methods are appalling! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Such they must be, else they're not sure. 
LE CHEVALIER— And tell me, please, who is this youngster? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Her name is Eugenie, daughter of a certain Mistival, one of 
the wealthiest commercial figures in the capital, aged about thirty-six; her mother is thirty- 
two at the very most, and the little girl fifteen. Mistival is as libertine as his wife is pious. As 
for Eugenie, dear one, I should in vain undertake to figure her to you; she is quite beyond my 
descriptive powers . . . satisfy yourself with the knowledge that assuredly neither you nor I 
have ever set eyes on anything so delicious, anywhere. 

LE CHEVALIER— But at least sketch a little if you cannot paint the portrait, so that, 

knowing fairly well with whom I am to deal, I may better fill my imagination with the idol to 
which I must sacrifice. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Very well, my friend: her abundant chestnut hair— there's 
too much of it to grasp in one's hand— descends to below her buttocks; her skin is of a 
dazzling whiteness, her nose rather aquiline, her eyes jet black and of a warmth! . . . Ah, my 

friend, 'tis impossible to resist those eyes You've no idea of the stupidities they've driven 

me to. . . . Could you but see the pretty eyebrows that crown them . . . the extraordinary lashes 
that border them. . . . Avery small mouth, superb teeth, and, all of it, of a freshness! . . . One 
of her beauties is the elegant manner whereby her lovely head is attached to her shoulders, 

the air of nobility she has when she turns Eugenie is tall for her age: one might think her 

seventeen; her figure is a model of elegance and finesse, her throat, her bosom delicious. . . . 
There indeed are the two prettiest little breasts! . . . Scarcely enough there to fill the hand, but 
so soft ... so fresh ... so very white! Twenty times have I gone out of my head while kissing 
them; and had you been able to see how she came alive under my caresses . . . how her two 
great eyes represented to me the whole state of her mind. . . . My friend, I ignore the rest. Ah! 
but if I must judge of her by what I know, never, I say, had Olympus a divinity comparable 

with this But I hear her . . . leave us; go out by way of the garden to avoid meeting her, 

and be on time at the rendezvous. 

LE CHEVALIER— The portrait you have just made for me assures my promptness. . . . Ah, 
heaven! to go out ... to leave you, in the state I am in . . . Adieu! ... a kiss ... a kiss, my dear 
sister, to satisfy me at least till then. (She kisses him, touches the prick straining in his 
breeches, and the young man leaves in haste.) 



MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Welcome, my pet! I have been awaiting you with an 
impatience you fully appreciate if you can read the feelings I have in my heart. 

EUGENIE— Oh, my precious one, I thought I should never arrive, so eager was I to find 
myself in your arms. An hour before leaving, I dreaded all might be changed; my mother was 
absolutely opposed to this delightful party, declaring it ill became a girl of my age to go 
abroad alone; but my father had so abused her the day before yesterday that a single one of 
his glances was quite enough to cause Madame Mistival to subside utterly, and it ended with 
her consenting to what my father had granted me, and I rushed here. I have two days; your 
carriage and one of your servants must without fail take me home the day after tomorrow. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— How short is this period, my dearest angel, in so little time I 
shall hardly be able to express to you all you excite in me . . . and indeed we have to talk. You 
know, do you not, that 'tis during this interview that I am to initiate you into the most secret 
of Venus' mysteries ; shall two days be time enough? 

EUGENIE— Ah, were I not to arrive at a complete knowledge, I should remain I came 

hither to be instructed, and will not go till I am informed. . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, kissing her— Dear love, how many things are we going to do 
and say to one another! But, by the way, do you wish to take lunch, my queen? For the lesson 
may be prolonged. 

EUGENIE— I have no need, dear friend, than to listen to you; we lunched a league from 
here; I'll be able to wait until eight o'clock this evening without feeling the least hunger. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Then let's go into my boudoir, where we will be more at our 
ease. I have already spoken to the servants. You may be certain no one shall take it into his 
head to interrupt us. (They enter the boudoir, linked arm in arm.) 


In a Delightful Boudoir 


EUGENIE, greatly surprised to find in this room a man whom she had not expected— 
Great God! Dearest friend, we are betrayed! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, equally surprised— Strange, Monsieur, to find you here. Were 
you not expected at four? 

DOLMANCE— One always hastens the advent of that happiness which comes of seeing 
you, Madame. I encountered Monsieur, your brother— he anticipated the usefulness of my 
presence at the lessons you are to give Mademoiselle, and knew this to be the lyceum where 
they would be given. Unperceived, he introduced me into this chamber, far from imagining 
you might disapprove; and as for himself, aware his demonstrations will only be necessary 
after the dissertations on theory, he will not make his appearance until later. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Indeed, Dolmance, this is an unforeseen turn. . . . 

EUGENIE— By which I am not deceived, my good friend; it is all your work. ... At least, 
you should have consulted me . . . instead of exposing me to this shame. It will certainly 
prejudice all our projects. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Eugenie, I protest— my brother is responsible for this, not I. 
But there's no cause for alarm: I know Dolmance for a most agreeable man, and he possesses 
just that degree of philosophic understanding we require for your enlightenment. He can be 
of nothing but the greatest service to our schemes. As for his discretion, I am as willing to 
answer for it as for my own. Therefore, dear heart, familiarize yourself with this man who in 
all the world is the best endowed to form you and to guide you into a career of the happiness 
and the pleasures we wish to taste together. 

EUGENIE, blushing- Oh! I still find all this most upsetting. . . . 

DOLMANCE— Come, my lovely Eugenie, put yourself at ease Modesty is an antiquated 

virtue which you, so rich in charms, ought to know wonderfully well how to do without. 

EUGENIE— But decency . . . 

DOLMANCE— Ha! A Gothicism not very much defended these days. It is so hostile to 
Nature! (Dolmance seizes Eugenie, folds her in his arms, and kisses her.) 

EUGENIE, struggling in his embrace— That' 's quite enough, Monsieur! . . . Indeed, you 
show me very little consideration! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Eugenie, listen to me: let's both of us cease behaving like 
prudes with this charming gentleman; I am not better acquainted with him than are you, yet 

watch how I give myself to him. (She kisses him indecently on the mouth.) Imitate me. 

EUGENIE— Oh, most willingly; where might I find better examples? (She puts herself in 
Dolmance's arms; he kisses her ardently, tongue in mouth.) 

DOLMANCE— Amiable, delicious creature! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, kissing her in the same way-Didst think, little chit, I'd not 
have my turn as well? (At this point Dolmance, holding first one in his arms, then the other, 
tongues both, each for a quarter of an hour, and they both tongue one another and him.) 

DOLMANCE— Ah, such preliminaries make me drunk with desire! Mesdames, upon my 
word, it is extraordinarily warm here; more lightly attired, we might converse with infinitely 
greater comfort. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— You are right, sir; we'll don these gauze negligees— of our 
charms, they'll conceal only those that must be hidden from desire. 

EUGENIE— Indeed, dear one, you lead me to do things! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, helping her undress-Completely ridiculous, isn't it? 

EUGENIE— Most improper at the very least, I'd say. . . . My! how you kiss me! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Pretty bosom! ... a rose only now reaching full bloom. 

DOLMANCE, considering, without touching, Eugenie's breasts— And which promises yet 
other allurements . . . infinitely to be preferred. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE-Infinitely to be preferred? 

DOLMANCE— Oh yes, upon my honor. (Saying which, Dolmance appears eager to turn 
Eugenie about in order to inspect her from the rear.) 

EUGENIE— No, I beg of you! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— No, Dolmance. . . I don't want you yet to see . . . an object 
whose sway over you is so great that, the image of it once fixed in your head, you are unable 
thereafter to reason coolly. We need your lessons, first give them to us— and afterward the 
myrtle you covet will be your reward. 

DOLMANCE— Very well, but in order to demonstrate, in order to give this beautiful child 
the first lessons of libertinage, we will require willing co-operation from you, Madame, in the 
exercise that must follow. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— So be it! All right then, look you here-I'm entirely naked. 
Make your dissertations upon me as much as you please. 

DOLMANCE— Oh, lovely body! 'Tis Venus herself, embellished by the Graces. 

EUGENIE— Oh, my dear friend, what charms! delights! Let me drink them in with my 
eyes, let me cover them with my kisses. (She does so.) 

DOLMANCE— What excellent predispositions! A trifle less passion, lovely Eugenie, for the 
moment you are only being asked to show a little attention. 

EUGENIE— Let's continue, I'm listening. . . . But how beautiful she is ... so plump, so 
fresh! . . . Ah, how charming my dear friend is. Is she not, Monsieur? 

DOLMANCE— Beautiful, assuredly . . . she is wondrous to see; but I am persuaded you 

yield to her in nothing Well, now, my pretty little student, either you pay attention to me 

or beware lest, if you are not docile, I exercise over you the rights amply conferred upon me 
by my title as your mentor. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, yes, yes indeed, Dolmance, I put her into your 
safekeeping. She must have a severe scolding if she misbehaves. 

DOLMANCE— It is very possible I might not be able to confine myself to remonstrances. 

EUGENIE— Great heaven! You terrify me . . . what then would you do to me, Monsieur? 

DOLMANCE, stammering, and kissing Eugenie on the mouth— Punishments . . . 
corrections. . . I might very well hold this pretty little ass accountable for mistakes made by 
the head. (He strikes the former through the gauze dressing gown in which Eugenie is 
presently arrayed.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Yes, I approve of the project but not of the gesture. Let's 
begin our lesson, else the little time granted us to enjoy Eugenie will be spent in 
preliminaries, and the instruction shall remain incomplete. 

DOLMANCE, who, as he discusses them, one by one touches the parts of Madame de 
Saint-Ange's body— I begin. I will say nothing of these fleshy globes; you know as well as I, 
Eugenie, that they are indifferently known as bosoms, breasts, tits. Pleasure may put them to 
profitable use: while amusing himself, a lover has them continually before his eyes: he 
caresses them, handles them, indeed, some lovers form of them the very seat of their 
pleasure and niche their member between these twin mounts of Venus which the woman 
then squeezes together, compressing this member; after a little management, certain men 
succeed in spreading thereupon the delicious balm of life whose outpouring causes the whole 

happiness of libertines But this member of which we shall be obliged to speak incessantly 

—should we not be well advised, Madame, to give our student a lecture upon it? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Verily, I do think so. 

DOLMANCE— Very well, Madame, I am going to recline upon this couch; place yourself 
near me. Then you will lay hands upon the subject and you will yourself explain its properties 
to our young student. (Dolmance lies down and Madame de Saint-Ange demonstrates.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— This scepter of Venus you have before your eyes, Eugenie, is 

the primary agent of love's pleasure: it is called the member: there is not a single part of the 
human body into which it cannot introduce itself. Always obedient to the passions of the 
person who wields it, sometimes it nests there (She touches Eugenie's cunt.), this is the 
ordinary route, the one in widest use, but not the most agreeable; in pursuit of a more 
mysterious sanctuary, it is often here (She spreads wide Eugenie's buttocks and indicates the 
anus.) that the libertine seeks enjoyment: we will return to this most delicious pleasure of 
them all; there are as well the mouth, the breasts, the armpits which provide him with 
further altars upon which to burn his incense. And finally whatever be the place among all 
these he most prefers, after a few instants of agitation the member may be seen to vent a 
white and viscous liquor, whose flowing forth plunges the man into a delirium intense 
enough to procure for him the sweetest pleasures he can hope to have in life. 

EUGENIE— How much I should like to see this liquor flow! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I need but vibrate my hand— you see how the thing becomes 
irritated the more I chafe and pull on it. These movements are known as pollution, and in the 
language of libertinage this action is called frigging. 

EUGENIE— Oh, please, dear friend, allow me to frig this splendid member! 

DOLMANCE— Look out! I'll not be able . . . don't interfere with her, Madame, this 
ingenuousness has got me horribly erected. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— No good will come of this excitement. Be reasonable, 
Dolmance: once that semen flows, the activity of your animal spirits will be diminished and 
the warmth of your dissertations will be lessened correspondingly. 

EUGENIE,/ond/mg Dolmonce's testicles— Ah, my dear friend, how sorry I am you resist 
my desires! . . . And these balls, what might be their purpose? What are they called? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— The technical term is genitals, male genitals . . . testicles 
belongs to art, the balls are the reservoir containing the abundant semen I have just 
mentioned and which, expelled into the woman's matrix, or womb, produces the human 
species; but we will not stress these details, Eugenie, for they relate more to medicine than to 
libertinage. A pretty girl ought simply to concern herself with fucking, and never with 
engendering. No need to touch at greater length on what pertains to the dull business of 
population, from now on we shall address ourselves principally, nay, uniquely to those 
libertine lecheries whose spirit is in no wise reproductive. 

EUGENIE— But, dear friend, when this enormous member I can scarcely grip in my hand, 
when this member penetrates, as you assure me it can, into a hole as little as the one in your 
behind, that must cause the woman a great deal of pain. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Whether this introduction be wrought before or behind, if 
she is not yet accustomed to it a woman always suffers. It has pleased Nature so to make us 
that we attain happiness only by way of pain. But once vanquished and had this way, nothing 
can equal the joy one tastes upon the entrance of this member into our ass; it is a pleasure 
incontestably superior to any sensation procured by this same introduction in front. And, 

besides, how many dangers does not a woman thus avoid! Fewer risks to her health, and 
none at all of pregnancy. For the present I'll say no more about this delight— your master and 
mine, Eugenie, will soon award it a full analysis, and by uniting practice with theory will, I 
trust, convince you, my precious one, that amongst all the bedroom's pleasures, that is the 
only one for which you should have a preference. 

DOLMANCE— I beg you to speed your demonstrations, Madame, for I can no longer 
restrain myself; I'll discharge despite my efforts, and this redoubtable member, reduced to 
nothing, will be unable to aid your lessons. 

EUGENIE— What! It would be reduced to nothing, dear heart, if it were to lose this semen 

you speak of ! . . . Oh, do allow me to help him lose it, so that I may see what happens to it 

And besides, I should take such pleasure in seeing it flow! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— No, no, Dolmance, up with you. Remember that this is the 
payment of your labors, and that I'll not turn her over to you until you've merited her. 

DOLMANCE— So be it; but the better to convince Eugenie of all we are going to relate 
concerning pleasure, would it be in any way prejudicial to Eugenie's instruction if, for 
instance, you were to frig her in front of me? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Why, doubtless not, and I shall do so all the more happily 
since I am certain this lubricious episode will only enrich our lessons. Onto the couch, my 

EUGENIE— Oh dear God! the delicious niche! But why all these mirrors? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— By repeating our attitudes and postures in a thousand 
different ways, they infinitely multiply those same pleasures for the persons seated here 
upon this ottoman. Thus everything is visible, no part of the body can remain hidden: 
everything must be seen; these images are so many groups disposed around those enchained 
by love, so many delicious tableaux wherewith lewdness waxes drunk and which soon drive it 
to its climax. 

EUGENIE— What a marvelous invention! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Dolmance, undress the victim yourself. 

DOLMANCE— That will not be difficult, since 'tis merely a question of removing this gauze 
in order to discern naked the most appealing features. (He strips her, and his first glances are 
instantly directed upon her behind.) And so I am about to see this divine, this priceless ass of 
which I have such ardent expectations! . . . Ah, by God! What fullness of flesh and what 
coolness, what stunning elegance! . . . Never have I seen one lovelier! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Rascal! How clearly your initial homages betray your tastes 
and pleasures! 

DOLMANCE— But can there be anything in the world to equal this?. . . Where might love 

find a more divine altar?. . . Eugenie . . . sublime Eugenie, let me overwhelm this ass of yours 
with the softest caresses. (He fingers and kisses it, transported.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Stop, libertine! . . . You forget Eugenie belongs to me only. 
She's to be your reward for the lessons she awaits from you; but you'll not have your 
recompense before she has been given those lessons. Enough of this ardor or you'll anger me. 

DOLMANCE— Scoundrel! It's your jealousy Very well. Pass me yours and I'll pay it a 

similar homage. (He raises Madame de Saint-Ange's negligee and caresses her behind.) Ah, 

'tis lovely, my angel, 'tis delicious too! Let me compare them both I'd see them one next 

to the other— Ganymede beside Venus! (He lavishes kisses upon each.) In order to have the 
bewitching spectacle of so much beauty constantly before my eyes, Madame, could you not, 
by interlacing yourselves, uninterruptedly offer my gaze these charming asses I worship? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Perfectly well! There ... are you satisfied?. . . (They 
intertwine their bodies in such a manner that both asses confront Dolmance.) 

DOLMANCE— It could not be better: 'tis precisely what I asked for. And now agitate those 
superb asses with all the fire of lubricity; let them sink and rise in cadence; let them obey the 
proddings whereby pleasure is going to stir them Oh, splendid, splendid, 'tis delicious! . . . 

EUGENIE— Ah, my dearest one, what pleasures you give me What is it you call what 

you are doing now? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Frigging, my pet, giving oneself pleasure. Stop a moment; 
we'll alter our positions. Examine my cunt . . . thus is named the temple of Venus. Look 
sharply at that coign your hand covers, examine it well. I am going to open it a little. This 
elevation you notice above it is called the mound, which is garnished with hair, generally, 
when one reaches the age of fourteen or fifteen, when, that is, a girl begins to have periods. 
Here above is a little tongue-shaped thing— that is the clitoris, and there lies all a woman's 
power of sensation. It is the center of all mine; it would be impossible to tickle this part of me 

without seeing me swoon with delight Try it Ah, sweet little bitch, how well you do it! 

One would think you've done nothing else all your life! . . . enough! . . . stop! . . . No, I tell you, 

no, I do not wish to surrender myself Oh, Dolmance, stop me! ... under the enchanted 

fingers of this pretty child, I am about to go out of my mind. 

DOLMANCE— You might be able to lower the temperature of your ideas by varying them: 
frig her in your turn; keep a grip on yourself, and let her go to work. . . . There, yes, in this 
position, in this manner her pretty little ass is between my hands, I'll pollute it ever so lightly 

with a finger Let yourself go Eugenie, abandon all your senses to pleasure, let it be the 

one object, the one god of your existence; it is to this god a girl ought to sacrifice everything, 
and in her eyes, nothing must be as holy as pleasure. 

EUGENIE— Nothing in the world is so delightful, I do feel that I am beside myself ... I 

no longer know what I am saying, nor what I am doing What a drunkenness steals 

through all my being! 

DOLMANCE— Look at the little rascal discharge! And squeeze! . . . Her anus nearly nipped 

off the end of my finger . . . how splendid it would be to bugger her at such a moment! (He 
stands and claps his prick to the girl's ass.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yet another moment's patience. The dear girl's education 
must be our sole occupation! . . . How pleasant it is to enlighten her! 

DOLMANCE— Well then, Eugenie, you observe that after a more or less prolonged 
pollution, the seminal glands swell, enlarge, and finally exhale a liquid whose release hurls 
the woman into the most intense rapture. This is known as discharging. When it pleases 
your good friend here, I'll show you, but in a more energetic and more imperious manner, 
how the same operation occurs in a man. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Wait, Eugenie, now I'm going to teach you a new way to 
drown a woman in joy. Spread your thighs. . . . Dolmance, you see how I am adjusting her, her 
ass is all yours. Suck it for her while my tongue licks her cunt, and between the two of us let's 
see if we can get her to swoon three or four times. Your little mound is charming, Eugenie, 
how I adore kissing this downy flesh! ... I see your clitoris more clearly now; 'tis but 
somewhat formed, yet most sensitive. . . . How you do quiver and squirm! . . . Let me spread 

you Ah! you're a virgin indeed! . . . Describe what you feel when our two tongues run at 

once into your two apertures. (They do as they have said.) 

EUGENIE— Ah, my dear, it thrills me so; it is a sensation impossible to depict! I'd be hard 
put to say which of your tongues plunges me further into my delirium. 

DOLMANCE— In this posture, Madame, my prick is well within your reach. Condescend to 
frig it, I beg of you, while I suck this heavenly ass. Thrust your tongue yet further, Madame; 
don't be content to suck her clitoris; make your voluptuous tongue penetrate into her womb: 
'tis the surest way to hasten the ejaculation. 

EUGENIE, stiffening— I cannot bear it anymore! oh, I'm dying! Don't abandon me, dear 
friends, I am about to swoon. (She discharges between her two initiators.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Well, my pet! What think you of the pleasure we have given 

EUGENIE— I am dead, exhausted . . . but I beg you to explain two words you pronounced 
and which I do not understand. First of all, what does womb signify? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— 'Tis a kind of vessel much resembling a bottle whose neck 
embraces the male's member, and which receives the fuck produced in the woman by 
glandular seepage and in the man by the ejaculation we will exhibit for you; and of the 
commingling of these liquors is born the germ whereof result now boys, now girls. 

EUGENIE— Oh, I see; this definition simultaneously explains the word fuck whose 
meaning I did not thoroughly grasp until now. And is the union of the seeds necessary to the 
formation of the fetus? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Assuredly; although it is proven that the fetus owes its 

existence only to the man's sperm, this latter, by itself, unmixed with the woman's, would 
come to naught. But that which we women furnish has a merely elaborative function; it does 
not create, it furthers creation without being its cause. Indeed, there are several 
contemporary naturalists who claim it is useless; whence the moralists, always guided by 
science's discoveries, have decided— and the conclusion has a degree of plausibility— that, 
such being the case, the child born of the father's blood owes filial tenderness to him alone, 
an assertion not without its appealing qualities and one which, even though a woman, I 
should not be inclined to contest. 

EUGENIE— It is in my heart I find confirmation of what you tell me, my dear; for I love my 
father to distraction, and I feel a loathing for my mother. 

DOLMANCE— But there is nothing unusual about that predilection; I have always thought 
as you. I still lament my father's death; when I lost my mother, I lit a perfect bonfire from 

joy I detested her. Be unafraid, Eugenie, and adopt these same sentiments; they are 

natural: uniquely formed of our sires' blood, we owe absolutely nothing to our mothers. 
What, furthermore, did they do but co-operate in the act which our fathers, on the contrary, 
solicited? Thus, it was the father who desired our birth, whereas the mother merely 
consented thereto. As regards sentiment, what a difference! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yet a thousand more reasons in your favor, Eugenie, if it is a 
mother still alive. If in all the world there is a mother who ought to be abhorred she is 
certainly yours! Superstitious, pious, a shrew, a scold . . . and what with her revolting prudery 
I dare wager the fool has never in her life committed a faux pas. Ah, my dear, how I hate 
virtuous women! . . . But we'll return to that question. 

DOLMANCE— And now would it not be fitting for Eugenie, directed by me, to learn to pay 
back what you have just done in her behalf? I think she might frig you before me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I applaud the suggestion— and while she frigs me, would not 
you, Dolmance, relish the sight of my ass? 

DOLMANCE— Are you able to doubt, Madame, of the pleasure with which I will render it 
my gentlest homages? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, presenting her buttocks to him— Do you find me suitable 

DOLMANCE— Wonderfully! I should never find a better manner to render you all the 
services Eugenie found so enormously to her liking. And now, my little wildcat, station 
yourself for a moment between your friend's legs, so, and with that pretty little tongue of 
yours, care for her as she has for you. Why, bless me! This way I shall be able to manage both 
your asses: I'll fondle Eugenie's while sucking her lovely friend's. . . . There, admirable . . . 
How agreeably we are all together. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, swooning -Good God, I'm dying Dolmance, how I love to 

handle your prick while I discharge I'd have it drown me in fuck, so frig it! Suck me! Oh, 

heavenly fuck! How I love to play the whore when my sperm flows this way! . . . It's done, 

finished, I cannot go on. . . . You've ruined me, both of you. ... I think I have never had so 
much pleasure in my life. 

EUGENIE— And how happy I am to be its cause! But, dear friend, you have just uttered 
another unfamiliar word. What do you understand this expression whore to mean? Forgive 
me, but you know I'm here to learn. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My most lovely one, in such wise are called the public 
victims of the debauchery of men, creatures prepared at all times to surrender their persons, 
whether from temperament or for reward; happy and deserving creatures common opinion 
assails but whom license crowns and who, far more necessary to the society which they strive 
to serve than are prudes, forgo the esteem an unjust society denies them. All hail to those in 
whose eyes this title is an honor! Such are truly lovable women, the only authentic 
philosophers! As for myself, dear heart, I, who for twelve years have endeavored to merit the 
laurel, I assure you that if I do not work as a whore, I always play as one. Better still, I love 
thus to be named when I am fucked: 'tis a vilification that fires my brain. 

EUGENIE— My dear, I fancy I too should not be sorry to be called a whore, though 'tis true 
I scarcely merit the name; but is not virtue opposed to such misconduct, and does it not 
reproach us for behaving as we do? 

DOLMANCE— Ah, Eugenie, have done with virtues! Among the sacrifices that can be made 
to those counterfeit divinities, is there one worth an instant of the pleasures one tastes in 
outraging them? Come, my sweet, virtue is but a chimera whose worship consists exclusively 
in perpetual immolations, in unnumbered rebellions against the temperament's inspirations. 
Can such impulses be natural? Does Nature recommend what offends her? Eugenie, be not 
the dupe of those women you hear called virtuous. Theirs are not, if you wish, the same 

passions as ours; but they harken to others, and often more contemptible There is 

ambition, there pride, there you find self-seeking, and often, again, it is a question of mere 
constitutional numbness, of torpor: there are beings who have no urges. Are we, I ask, to 
revere such as them? No; the virtuous woman acts, or is inactive, from pure selfishness. Is it 
then better, wiser, more just to perform sacrifices to egoism than to one's passions? As for 
me, I believe the one far worthier than the other, and who heeds but this latter voice is far 
better advised, no question of it, since it only is the organ of Nature, while the former is 
simply that of stupidity and prejudice. One single drop of fuck shed from this member, 
Eugenie, is more precious to me than the most sublime deeds of a virtue I scorn. 

EUGENIE— (Calm being to some degree re-established during these expositions, the 
women, clad again in their negligees, are reclining upon a couch, and Dolmance, seated in an 
armchair, is close by.) But there is more than one species of virtue. What think you of, for 
example, piety? 

DOLMANCE— What can it be for whosoever has no belief in religion? And who is able to 
have religious beliefs? Come now, Eugenie, let's reason systematically. Do you not call 
religion the pact that binds man to his Creator and which obliges him to give his Creator 
evidence, by means of worship, of his gratitude for the existence received from this sublime 

EUGENIE— It could not be better defined. 

DOLMANCE— Excellent! If it is demonstrated that man owes his existence to nothing but 
Nature's irresistible schemes; if man is thus proven as ancient in this world as is ancient the 
globe itself, he is but as the oak, as grain, as the minerals to be found in the earth's entrails, 
who are bound only to reproduce, reproduction being necessitated by the globe's existence, 
which owes its own to nothing whatsoever; if it is demonstrated that this God, whom fools 
behold as the author and maker of all we know there to be, is simply the neplus ultra of 
human reason, merely the phantom created at the moment this reason can advance its 
operations no further; if it is proven that this God's existence is impossible, and that Nature, 
forever in action, forever moving, has of herself what it pleases idiots to award God 
gratuitously; if it is certain that this inert being's existence, once supposed, he would be of all 
things the most ridiculous, since he would have been useful only one single time and, 
thereafter and throughout millions of centuries, fixed in a contemptible stillness and 
inactivity; that, supposing him to exist as religions portray him to us, this would be the most 
detestable of creatures, since it would be God who permits evil to be on earth while his 
omnipotence could prevent it; if, I say, all that is admitted to be proven, as incontestably it is, 
do you believe, Eugenie, that it is a very necessary virtue, this piety which binds man to an 
idiotic, insufficient, atrocious, and contemptible Creator? 

EUGENIE, to Madame de Saint-Ang e— What! Then you mean to say, dear friend, God's 
existence is an illusion? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— And without doubt one of the most deplorable. 

DOLMANCE— To believe therein one must first have gone out of one's mind. Fruit of the 
terror of some and of the frailty of others, that abominable phantom, Eugenie, is of no use to 
the terrestrial scheme and would infallibly be injurious to it, since the will of God would have 
to be just and should never be able to ally itself to the essential injustices decreed by Nature; 
since He would constantly have to will the good, while Nature must desire it only as 
compensation for the evil which serves her laws; since it would be necessary that he, God, 
exert his influence at all times, while Nature, one of whose laws is this perpetual activity, 
could only find herself in competition with and unceasing opposition to him. Am I to hear in 
reply, that God and Nature are one? 'Tis an absurdity. The thing created cannot be the 
creative being's equal. Might the pocket watch be the watchmaker? Very well then, they will 
continue, Nature is nothing, it is God who is all. Another stupidity! There are necessarily two 
things in the universe: the creative agent and the being created; now, to identify this creative 
agent is the single task before us, the one question to which one has got to provide a reply. 

If matter acts, is moved by combinations unknown to us, if movement is inherent in 
Nature; if, in short, she alone, by reason of her energy, is able to create, produce, preserve, 
maintain, hold in equilibrium within the immense plains of space all the spheres that stand 
before our gaze and whose uniform march, unvarying, fills us with awe and admiration, what 
then becomes of the need to seek out a foreign agent, since this active faculty essentially is to 
be found in Nature herself, who is naught else than matter in action? Do you suppose your 
deific chimera will shed light upon anything? I defy anyone to prove him to me. It being 
supposed that I am mistaken upon matter's internal faculties, I have before me, at least, 
nothing worse than a difficulty. What do you do for me when you offer your God to me? 

Nothing but offering one more god. And how would you have me acknowledge as cause of 
what I do not understand, something that I understand even less? Will it be by means of the 
Christian religion that I shall examine . . . that I shall obtain a view of your appalling God? 
Then let us cast a glance upon the God Christianity propounds 

What do I see in the God of that infamous sect if not an inconsistent and barbarous being, 
today the creator of a world of destruction he repents of tomorrow; what do I see there but a 
frail being forever unable to bring man to heel and force him to bend a knee. This creature, 
although emanated from him, dominates him, knows how to offend him and thereby merit 
torments eternally! What a weak fellow, this God! How able he was to mold all that we know 
and to fail to form man in his own guise! Whereunto you will answer, that had man been 
created so, man would have been little deserving of his author; what a platitude this is! and 
what necessity is there that man be deserving of his God? Had man been formed wholly good, 
man should never have been able to do evil, and only then would the work be worthy of a god. 
To allow man to choose was to tempt him; and God's infinite powers very well advised him of 
what would be the result. Immediately the being was created, it was hence to pleasure that 
God doomed the creature he had himself formed. A horrible God, this God of yours, a 
monster! Is there a criminal more worthy of our hatred and our implacable vengeance than 
he! However, little content with a task so sublimely executed, he drowns man to convert him; 
he burns him; he curses him. 

Nothing in all that alters man one jot. More powerful than this villainous God, a being still 
in possession of his power, forever able to brave his author, the Devil by his seductions 
incessantly succeeds in leading astray the flock that the Eternal reserved unto himself. 
Nothing can vanquish the hold this demon's energy has upon us. But picture, in your own 
terms, the frightful God you preach: he has but one son; an only son, begot of some passing 
strange commerce; for, as man doth fuck, so he hath willed that his Lordfucketh too; and the 
Lord didst detach and send down out of Heaven this respectable part of himself. One perhaps 
imagines that it is upon celestial rays, in the midst of an angelic cortege, within sight of all 
the universe this sublime creature is going to appear . . . not at all; 'tis upon a Jewish whore's 
breast, 'tis in a proper pigsty that there is announced the God who has come to save the 
earth! Behold the worthy extraction accorded this personage! But his mission is honorable- 
will he disabuse us? Let us have a close look at him for an instant. What does he say? What is 
it he does? What is his sublime mission? What mystery is he about to reveal? What is the 
dogma he is going to prescribe for us? What will be the act wherein at last his grandeur will 

I see, first of all, an obscure childhood, a few doubtless very libertine services this smutty 
fellow renders the priests at the Temple of Jerusalem; next, a fifteen years' disappearance 
during which the scoundrel goes to poison himself with all the reveries of the Egyptian 
school, which at length he fetches back to Judea. Scarcely does he reappear when his raving 
begins: he says he is the son of God, his father's peer; to this alliance he joins another 
phantom he calls the Holy Ghost, and these three persons, he swears, must be but one! The 
more this preposterous mystery amazes the reason, the more the low fellow declares there is 
merit in swallowing it . . . and danger in refusing it. It is to save us one and all, the imbecile 
argues, that he has assumed a fleshly shape, although he is God, mortally incarnate in the 
breast of a child of man; and the glittering wonders one is about to see him perform will 

speedily convince all the world of it. During a ribald supper, indeed, the cheat transforms, so 
they say, water into wine; in a desert he feeds a few bandits upon the victuals previously 
hidden there by his devoted confederates; one of his cronies plays dead, our impostor 
restores him to life again; he betakes himself to a mountain and there, before two or three of 
his friends only, he brings off a jugglery that would cause the worst among our contemporary 
mountebanks to redden with shame. 

Roundly damning, moreover, all those who do not accredit him, the scoundrel promises 
the heavens to whatever fools will listen. He writes nothing, for he is ignorant; talks very 
little, for he is stupid; does even less, for he is weak; and, finally, completely exhausting the 
patience of the magistrates with his seditious outbursts, the charlatan has himself fixed to 
the cross after having assured the rogues who follow him that, every time they invoke him, 
he will descend to them to get himself eaten. He is put to torture, he puts up with it. 
Monsieur his Papa, that sublime God whence he dares affirm he descends, succors him not in 
the least, and there you have him, this scoundrel, used like the last of the outlaws of whom 
he was such a fitting chief. 

His henchmen assemble: "It's all up with us," they say, "and all our hopes are perished lest 
we save ourselves with a quick piece of cunning. We'll besot the guard set to watch over 
Jesus; then make off with his body, bruit it abroad he is risen: the trick's sure; if we manage 
to get this knavery believed, our new religion's founded, propagated; it'll seduce all the world. 
... To work!" The blow is struck, it succeeds. In how many blackguards has not boldness 
occupied the place of merit! The corpse is filched, fools, women, children bawl out "Miracle!" 
at the top of their lungs; nevertheless, in this city where such great prodigies have just been 
wrought, in this city stained with a God's blood, no one cares to believe in this God; not a 
single conversion is operated there. Better yet: so little worthy of transmission is the event 
that no historian alludes to it. Only this impostor's disciples think they have something to 
gain from the fraud; but not at the hour. 

This detail is crucial; let's note it well. They permit several years to pass before exploiting 
their artifice; at length, they erect upon it the shaky edifice of their unwholesome doctrine. 
Men are pleased by any novelty. Weary of the emperors' despotism, the world agrees to the 
need for a revolution. These cheats are heard, they make a very rapid progress; 'tis the story 
of every error. Soon the altars of Venus and Mars are changed to those of Jesus and Mary; the 
life of the impostor is published, the insipid fiction finds its dupes; he is represented as 
having said a hundred things which never came into his head; some few of his own drivelings 
instantly become the basis of his morality, and as this romance is preached to the poor, 
charity becomes its foremost virtue. Weird rites are instituted under the name of 
sacraments; the most offensive and the most abominable of them all is the one whereby a 
priest, covered with crimes, has, notwithstanding, thanks to a few magical words, the power 
to bring God back in a morsel of bread. Let there be no mistake: at its very birth, this 
shameful cult might have been utterly destroyed had one but employed against it those 
weapons of the contempt it deserved; but men took it into their heads to employ persecution; 
the cult throve; 'twas inevitable. 

Even today were one to cover it with ridicule, it would fall. The adroit Voltaire never used 
any other arm, and among all writers he is the one who may congratulate himself upon 

having the greatest number of proselytes. Such, in a few words, Eugenie, is the history of God 
and of religion; consider the treatment these fables deserve, and adopt a determined attitude 
toward them. 

EUGENIE— My choice is unperplexed; I scorn the lot of these unhealthy reveries, and this 
God himself, to whom I lately clove through weakness or through ignorance, is henceforth 
nothing for me but an object of horror. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Swear to me to think no more of him, never to be concerned 
for him, never to invoke him at any moment in your life, and so long as breath be in you 
never to return to him. 

EUGENIE, flinging herself upon Madame de Saint-Ange's breast— I pledge it in your arms! 
How readily I see that what you demand is for my own good, and that you would never have 
such reminiscences disturb my tranquillity! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- What other motive could I have? 

EUGENIE— But, Dolmance, it seems to me it was the analysis of virtues that led us to the 
examination of religions. Let us now return to the former. Might there not exist in this 
religion, completely ridiculous though it is, some virtues prescribed by it, whose cultivation 
could contribute to our happiness? 

DOLMANCE— All right, let us see. Shall chastity be that virtue your own eyes destroy, 
Eugenie, although you and all about you are the very image of it? Are you going to respect the 
obligation to combat all Nature's operations, will you sacrifice them all to the vain and 
ludicrous honor of never having had a weakness? Be fair and answer me, pretty little friend: 
think you to find in this absurd and dangerous purity of soul all the pleasures of the contrary 

EUGENIE— No, I'm bound to declare I see nothing there; I do not feel the least inclination 
to be chaste, but rather the most compelling urge to the opposite vice. But, Dolmance, might 
not charity and benevolence bring happiness to some sensitive souls? 

DOLMANCE— Begone those virtues which produce naught but ingratitude! But, my 
charming friend, be not at all deceived: benevolence is surely rather pride's vice than an 
authentic virtue in the soul; never is it with the single intention of performing a good act, but 
instead ostentatiously that one aids one's fellow man; one would be most annoyed were the 
alms one has just bestowed not to receive the utmost possible publicity. Nor, Eugenie, are 
you to imagine that, as is the popular view, this action has only excellent consequences; for 
my part I behold it as nothing other than the greatest of all duperies; it accustoms the poor 
man to doles which provoke the deterioration of his energy; when able to expect your 
charities, he ceases to work and becomes, when they fail him, a thief or assassin. On all sides 
I hear them ask after the means to suppress mendacity, and meanwhile they do everything 
possible to encourage it. Would you have no flies in your bed chamber? Don't spread about 
sugar to attract them into it. You wish to have no poor in France? Distribute no alms, and 
above all shut down your poorhouses. The individual born in misfortune thereupon seeing 
himself deprived of these dangerous crutches, will fend for himself, summoning up all the 

resources put in him by Nature, to extricate himself from the condition wherein he started 
life; and he will importune you no longer. Destroy, with entire unpity, raze to the ground, 
those detestable houses where you billet the progeny of the libertinage of the poor, appalling 
cloacas, wherefrom there every day spews forth into society a swarm of new-made creatures 
whose unique hope resides in your purse. What purpose, I ask, is there in preserving such 
individuals with so much care? Does anyone fear France's depopulation? Ha! dread not. 

One of the foremost of this nation's defects consists in a population by far too numerous, 
and much is wanting when such overabundances become considered the State's riches. These 
supernumerary beings are like unto the parasitical branches which, living only at the trunk's 
expense, always bring it to final decline. Remember that in no matter what political 
organization, whenever the size of the population exceeds what is strictly necessary to its 
existence, that society languishes. Examine France well, and you will observe that to be her 
situation. What results of it? 'Tis clear. The Chinese, wiser than we, are most careful to avoid 
the perils of excessive numbers. No asylum for the shameful fruit of debauchery: it is not 
preserved, it is abandoned, just as are the aftermaths of digestion. No establishments for 
poverty: such a thing is totally unknown in China. There, everyone works: there, everyone is 
happy; nothing saps the poor man's energy and everyone can say, as did Nero, Quid est 

EUGENIE, to Madame de Saint-Ange— Beloved friend, my father thinks exactly as 
Monsieur Dolmance: never in his life has he performed a good work, and he is continually 
abusing my mother for the money she spends in such practices. She belonged to the 
Maternal Society, to the Philanthropic Club; I have no idea of what association she is not a 
member; he obliged her to stop all that by promising her he would reduce her to the 
narrowest pension were she to relapse into similar follies. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— There is nothing more ludicrous and at the same time more 
dangerous, Eugenie, than all these sodalities; it is to them, to free public schools, and to 
charitable establishments we owe the terrible disorder in which we presently live. Never give 
alms, my dear, I beseech you. 

EUGENIE— Nothing to fear on that score; it was long ago my father put me under the 
same obligation, and I am too little tempted to benevolence to disregard his orders . . . my 
heart's impulses, and your desires. 

DOLMANCE— Nature has endowed each of us with a capacity for kindly feelings: let us not 
squander them on others. What to me are the woes that beset others? have I not enough of 
my own without afflicting myself with those that are foreign to me? May our sensibility's 
hearth warm naught but our pleasures! Let us feel when it is to their advantage; and when it 
is not, let us be absolutely unbending. From this exact economy of feeling, from this 
judicious use of sensibility, there results a kind of cruelty which is sometimes not without its 
delights. One cannot always do evil; deprived of the pleasure it affords, we can at least find 
the sensation's equivalent in the minor but piquant wickedness of never doing good. 

EUGENIE— Dear God, how your discourses inflame me! I believe I would now sooner 
suffer death than be made to perform a good act! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— And were the opportunity presented to do an evil one, would 

you be ready to commit it? 

EUGENIE— Be still, temptress; I'll not answer that until you have completed my 
instruction. In the light of all you tell me, it seems, Dolmance, that there is nothing on earth 
as indifferent as the committing of good or evil; ought not our tastes, our temperament alone 
counsel us? 

DOLMANCE— Ah, be in no doubt of it, Eugenie, these words vice and virtue contain for us 
naught but local ideas. There is no deed, in whatever the unusual form you may imagine it, 
which is really criminal, none which may be really called virtuous. All is relative to our 
manners and the climate we inhabit; what is a crime here is often a virtue several hundred 
leagues hence, and the virtues of another hemisphere might well reverse themselves into 
crimes in our own. There is no horror that has not been consecrated somewhere, no virtue 
that has not been blasted. When geography alone decides whether an action be worthy of 
praise or blame, we cannot attach any great importance to ridiculous and frivolous 
sentiments, but rather should be impeccably armed against them, to the point, indeed, where 
we fearlessly prefer the scorn of men if the actions which excite it are for us sources of even 
the mildest voluptuousness. 

EUGENIE— But it would however appear to me that there must be actions in themselves 
so dangerous and so evil that they have come to be considered from one end of the earth to 
the other as generally criminal. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— There are none, my love, none, not even theft, nor incest, 
neither murder nor parricide itself. 

EUGENIE— What! such horrors are somewhere tolerated? 

DOLMANCE— They have been honored, crowned, beheld as exemplary deeds, whereas in 
other places, humaneness, candor, benevolence, chastity, in brief, all our virtues have been 
regarded as monstrosities. 

EUGENIE— I would have you explain that to me; I ask for a succinct analysis of each one 
of those crimes, but I beg you to begin by exposing your opinions upon libertinage in young 
girls, then upon the adultery of married women. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Then listen to me, Eugenie. It is absurd to say that 
immediately a girl is weaned she must continue the victim of her parents' will in order to 
remain thus to her dying day. It is not in this age of preoccupation with the rights of man and 
general concern for liberties that girls ought to continue to believe themselves their families' 
slaves, when it is clearly established that these families' power over them is totally illusory. 
Let us consult Nature upon so interesting a question as this, and may the laws that govern 
animals, in much stricter conformance with Nature, provide us for a moment with examples. 
Amongst beasts, do paternal duties extend beyond primary physical needs? Do not the 
offspring of animals possess all their parents' liberty, all their rights? As soon as they are able 
to walk alone and feed themselves, beginning at this instant, are they any longer recognized 
by the authors of their days? And do the young fancy themselves in any sense beholden to 
those whence they have received breath? Surely not. By what right, hence, are other duties 

incumbent upon the children of men? And what is the basis of these duties if not the fathers' 
greed or ambition? Well, I ask if it is just that a young girl who is beginning to feel and reason 
be submitted to such constraints. Is it not prejudice which all unaided forges those chains? 
And is there anything more ridiculous than to see a maiden of fifteen or sixteen, consumed 
by desires she is compelled to suppress, wait, and, while waiting, endure worse than hell's 
torments until it pleases her parents, having first rendered her youth miserable, further to 
sacrifice her riper years by immolating them to their perfidious cupidity when they associate 
her, despite her wishes, with a husband who either has nothing wherewith to make himself 
loved, or who possesses everything to make himself hated? 

Ah! no. No, Eugenie, such bonds are quickly dissolved; it is necessary that when once she 
reaches the age of reason the girl be detached from the paternal household, and after having 
received a public education it is necessary that at the age of fifteen she be left her own 
mistress, to become what she wishes. She will be delivered unto vice? Ha! what does that 
matter? Are not the services a young girl renders in consenting to procure the happiness of all 
who apply to her, infinitely more important than those which, isolating herself, she performs 
for her husband? Woman's destiny is to be wanton, like the bitch, the she-wolf; she must 
belong to all who claim her. Clearly, it is to outrage the fate Nature imposes upon women to 
fetter them by the absurd ties of a solitary marriage. 

Let us hope eyes will be opened, and that while we go about assuring the liberty of every 
individual, the fate of unhappy girls will not be overlooked; but should they have the great 
misfortune to be forgotten, then, of their own accord rising above usage and prejudice, let 
them boldly fling off and spurn the shameful irons wherewith others presume to keep them 
subjugated; they will rapidly conquer custom and opinion; man become wiser, because he 
will be freer, will sense the injustice that would exist in scorning whoever acts thus, and will 
sense too that the act of yielding to Nature's promptings, beheld as a crime by a captive 
people, can be so no longer amongst a free people. 

Begin, therefore, with the legitimacy of these principles, Eugenie, and break your shackles 
at no matter what the cost; be contemptuous of the futile remonstrances of an imbecile 
mother to whom you legitimately owe only hatred and a curse. If your father, who is a 
libertine, desires you, why then, go merrily to him: let him enjoy you, but enjoy without 
enchaining you; cast off the yoke if he wishes to enslave you; more than one daughter has 
treated thus with her father. Fuck, in one word, fuck: 'twas for that you were brought into the 
world; no limits to your pleasure save those of your strength and will; no exceptions as to 
place, to time, to partner; all the time, everywhere, every man has got to serve your pleasures; 
continence is an impossible virtue for which Nature, her rights violated, instantly punishes us 
with a thousand miseries. So long as the laws remain such as they are today, employ some 
discretion: loud opinion forces us to do so; but in privacy and silence let us compensate 
ourselves for that cruel chastity we are obliged to display in public. 

Let our young maiden strive to procure herself a companion who, unattached and abroad 
in the world, can secretly cause her to taste the world's pleasures; failing of that, let her 
contrive to seduce the Arguses posted round her; let her beg them to prostitute her, and 
promise them all the money they can earn from her sale; either those watchdogs alone, or the 
women they will find and whom one calls procuresses, will soon supply the little one's wants; 
then let her kick up the dust into the eyes of everyone at hand, brothers, cousins, friends, 
parents; let her give herself to everyone, if that is necessary to hide her conduct; let her even 
make the sacrifice, if 'tis required of her, of her tastes and affections; one intrigue which 
might displease her, and into which she would enter only for reasons of policy, will 

straightway lead her to another more agreeable; and there she is, launched. But let her not 
revert to her childhood prejudices; menaces, exhortations, duties, virtues, religion, advice, let 
her give not a damn for the one or the lot of them; let her stubbornly reject and despise all 
that which but tends to her re-entry into thralldom, and all that which, in a word, does not hie 
her along the road to the depths of impudicity. 

'Tis but folly in our parents when they foretell the disasters of a libertine career; there are 
thorns everywhere, but along the path of vice roses bloom above them; Nature causes none to 
smile along virtue's muddy track. Upon the former of the routes, the one snare to fear is 
men's opinion; but what mettlesome girl, with a little reflection, will not render herself 
superior to that contemptible opinion? The pleasures received through esteem, Eugenie, are 
nothing but moral pleasures, acceptable to none but certain minds; those of fuckery please 
all, and their winning characteristics soon eclipse the hallucinatory scorn from which escape 
is difficult when one flouts the public's views at which several cool-headed women have so 
much laughed as therefrom to derive one pleasure the more. Fuck, Eugenie, fuck, my angel; 
your body is your own, yours alone; in all the world there is but yourself who has the right to 
enjoy it as you see fit. 

Profit from the fairest period in your life; these golden years of our pleasure are only too 
few and too brief. If we are so fortunate as to have enjoyed them, delicious memories console 
and amuse us in our old age. These years lost . . . and we are racked by bitterest regrets, 
gnawing remorse conjoins with the sufferings of age and the fatal onset of the grave is all 
tears and brambles. . . . But have you the madness to hope for immortality? 

Why, then, 'tis by fucking, my dear, you will remain in human memory. The Lucretias were 
soon forgot whereas the Theodoras and the Messalinas are subjects for life's sweetest and 
most frequent conversation. How, Eugenie, may one not elect an alternative which twines in 
our hair the flowers of this world and yet leaves us the hope of reverence when we are gone 
out of it? How, I say, may one not prefer this course to another which, causing us stupidly to 
vegetate upon earth, promises us nothing after our existence but scorn and oblivion? 

EUGENIE, to Madame de Saint-Ang e—Oh\ my love, how these seductive words inflame 

my mind and captivate my soul! I am in a state hardly to be painted And, I pray, will you 

be able to acquaint me with some of these women. . . (worried) who will, if I tell them to, 
prostitute me? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— For the moment and until you have become more 
experienced, the matter is entirely my concern, Eugenie; trust me and above all the 
precautions I am taking to mask your excesses; my brother and this solid friend instructing 
you will be the first to whom I wish you to give yourself; afterward, we will discover others. 
Be not disturbed, dear heart: I shall have you fly from one pleasure to the next, I'll plunge 
you in a sea of delights, I will fill your cup to overflowing, my angel, I will sate you. 

EUGENIE, throwing herself into Madame de Saint-Ange's arms— Oh, my dearest one, I 
adore you; you will never have a more submissive scholar. But it seems to me you gave me to 
understand in our earlier conversations that it were a difficult thing for a young person to 
fling herself into libertinage without the husband she is to wed perceiving it later on? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- 'Tis true, my heart, but there are secrets which heal all those 
breaches. I promise to make them known to you, and then, had you fucked like Antoinette, I 

charge myself to render you as much a virgin as you were the day you were born. 

EUGENIE— Oh, my delightful one! Come, continue to instruct me. Be quick then; teach 
me what should be a woman's conduct in marriage. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— In whatever circumstances, a woman, my dear, whether 
unwedded, wife, or widow, must never have for objective, occupation, or desire anything save 
to have herself fucked from morning to night: 'tis for this unique end Nature created her; but 
if, in order to answer this intention, I require her to trample upon all the prejudices of her 
childhood, if I prescribe to her the most formal disobedience to her family's orders, the most 
arrant contempt for all her relatives' advice, you will agree with me, Eugenie, that among all 
the bonds to be burst, I ought very surely to recommend that the very first be those of 

Indeed, Eugenie, consider the young girl scarcely out of her father's house or her pension, 
knowing nothing, without experience: of a sudden she is obliged to pass thence into the arms 
of a man she has never seen, she is called to the altar and compelled to swear to this man an 
oath of obedience, of fidelity, the more unjust for her often having nothing in the depths of 
her heart but the greatest desire to break her word. In all the world, is there a more terrible 
fate than this, Eugenie? However, whether her husband pleases her or no, whether or not he 
has tenderness in store for her or vile treatment, behold! she is married; her honor binds her 
to her oaths: it is attainted if she disregards them; she must be doomed or shackled: either 
way, she must perish of despair. Ah, no! Eugenie, no! 'tis not for that end we are born; those 
absurd laws are the handiwork of men, and we must not submit to them. And divorce? Is it 
capable of satisfying us? Probably not. What greater assurance have we of finding the 
happiness in a later bondage that eluded us in an earlier? 

Therefore, in secrecy let us compensate ourselves for all the restraint imposed by such 
absurd unions, and let us be certain indeed that this species of disorders, to whatever extreme 
we carry them, far from outraging Nature, is but a sincere homage we render her; it is to obey 
her laws to cede to the desires she alone has placed in us; it is only in resisting that we affront 
her. The adultery men deem a crime, which they have dared punish in us even with death, 
adultery, Eugenie, is hence nothing but an acquittance sanctioned by a natural law the whims 
of those tyrants shall never be able to abrogate. But is it not horrible, say our husbands, to lay 
us open to cherishing as our own children, to embracing as ours the fruit of your 
licentiousness? The objection is Rousseau's; it is, I admit, the only faintly specious one 
wherewith adultery may be opposed. Well! Is it not extremely simple to surrender oneself to 
libertinage without fear of pregnancy? Is it not easier yet to check it if through our oversight 
or imprudence it should occur? But, as we shall return to the subject, let's now but treat the 
heart of the matter: we will see that, however plausible it at first appears, the argument is 
chimerical nevertheless. 

First, provided I sleep with my husband, provided his semen flows to the depths of my 
womb, should I see ten men at the same time I consort with him, nothing will ever be able to 
prove to him that the child I bear does not belong to him; it is quite as likely the child is his 
as not, and in a case of uncertainty he cannot justifiably disclaim his part in bringing about 
something which may perhaps have been all of his doing. Immediately it can be his, it is his; 
any man who vexes himself with suspicions upon this head seeks vexations, even were his 
wife a vestal he would plague himself with worries, for it is impossible to be sure of a woman, 
and she who has behaved well for years may someday interrupt her good behavior. Hence, if 

this husband is suspicious, he will be so in any case: never, then, will he be convinced the 
child he embraces is really his own. Now, if he can be suspicious in any case, there can be no 
disadvantage in sometimes justifying his suspicions: with what regards his state of happiness 
or unhappiness, it will all be one; therefore, 'tis just as well things be thus. Well, suppose him 
in complete error: picture him caressing the fruit of his wife's libertinage: where is the crime 
in that? Are not our goods held in common? In which case, what ill do I cause by introducing 
into the menage a child to whom must be accorded a share of these goods? 'Twill be my share 
the child will have; he'll steal nothing from my tender mate: I consider as a levy upon my 
dowry this portion to which the child will be heir; hence, neither it nor I take anything from 
my husband. Had this child been his, by what title would it have been a claimant to a part of 
my chattels and monies? Is it not by reason of the fact the child would have been my 
offspring? Very well, the child is going to inherit this part, rightfully the child's by virtue of 
the same intimate alliance. It is because this child belongs to me that I owe it a share of my 

With what are you to reproach me? The child is provided for. "But you deceive your 
husband; thus to be false is atrocious." "No, it's tit for tat," say I, "and there's an end to it: I 
was the dupe in the first place of the attachments he forced upon me: I take my revenge: 
what could be more simple?" "But your husband's honor has suffered a real outrage." "What 
ludicrous notion is this! My libertinage in no wise affects my husband; mine are personal 
faults. This alleged dishonor signified something a century ago; we're rid of our illusions 
today, and my husband is no more sullied by my debauches than I might be by his. I might 
fuck with the whole wide world without wounding him in the slightest. This so-called hurt is 
therefore a mere fable whose authentic existence is impossible. Of the two things, one: either 
my husband is a brutal, a jealous man, or he is a delicate one; in the former hypothesis, the 
best course for me is to avenge myself for his conduct; in the latter, I should be unable to 
aggrieve him; the fact I am tasting pleasures will make him happy if he is honest; no man of 
refinement fails to relish the spectacle of the happiness of the person he adores." "But, were 
you to love him, would you wish him to do the same?" "Ah, woe unto the wife who decides to 
be jealous of her husband! Let her be content with what he gives her, if she loves him; but let 
her make no attempt to constrain him; not only will she have no success, but she will soon 
make herself detested. So long as I am reasonable, I shall never be afflicted by my husband's 
debauches; let him be thus with me, and peace will reign in the house." 

Let us recapitulate: Whatever be adultery's issue, were it even to introduce into the home 
children who do not belong to the husband, because they are the wife's they have certain 
rights to a portion of that wife's dowry; if the husband has intelligence of the thing, he must 
consider them as he would children his wife might have had by an earlier marriage; if he 
knows nothing, he'll not be the worse for it, for one cannot be distressed by what one is 
unaware of; if the adultery is followed by no consequences and if it remain unknown to the 
husband, no jurist can prove, in this case, the existence of crime: here, adultery appears as an 
act of perfect indifference to the husband, who knows nothing of it, and perfectly splendid for 
the wife, whom it delights; if the husband discovers the adultery, 'tis no longer the adultery 
which is an evil, for it was not such a moment ago, and it could not have altered its nature: if 
evil there be, it is in the husband's discovery of it: well, that fault belongs only to him: it has 
nothing to do with his wife. 

Those who in former times punished the adulterer were hence mere hangmen, tyrannical 
and jealous, who, viewing everything subjectively, unjustly imagined that in order to be 
criminal it was only necessary to offend them, as if a personal injury were always to be 

considered a crime, and as if one might justly describe as a crime an act which, far from 
outraging Nature or society, clearly serves the one and the other. There are, however, cases 
when adultery, easy to prove, becomes more embarrassing for the woman without for that 
reason being any more criminal; witness, for example, the case wherein the husband is found 
either impotent or subject to inclinations disfavorable to engendering. As she is susceptible of 
pleasure, and as her husband never is, her deportment doubtless then becomes more open; 
but ought she be disquieted on that account? Surely not. The one precaution she must take is 
to produce no children, or to have an abortion if these precautions should happen to fail her. 
If it is thanks to her husband's unseemly penchants that she is compelled to compensate 
herself for his neglect, she has first of all to satisfy him, without repugnance and according to 
his tastes, of whatever character they may chance to be; next, let her make it known to him 
that such complacencies entitle her to a counterpart; let her demand an entire liberty in 
return for the one she accords; thereupon, the husband refuses or else he consents: if he 
consents, as has mine, one puts oneself at his disposal and redoubles one's ministrations and 
condescensions to his caprices; if he refuses, then one perfects one's concealments and one 
fucks peacefully in their shadow. Is he impotent? Why, then one parts company; but, 
whatever may be the case, one gives oneself: one fucks, my lamb, the particular situation 
notwithstanding, because we are born to fuck, because by fucking we obey and fulfill Nature's 
ordinations, and because all man-made laws which would contravene Nature's are made for 
naught but our contempt. 

A silly gull is the woman whom ties as absurd as those of wedlock inhibit from 
surrendering to her penchants, who dreads either pregnancy or the injury to her husband, or 
the yet more vain tarnishing of her reputation! You have just seen, Eugenie, yes, you have 
just sensed what a dupe she is when basely she immolates both her happiness and all life's 
joys to the most preposterous prejudices. Oh! let her fuck with impunity! Will a little false 
glory, a few frivolous religious anticipations balance the weight of her sacrifices? No; no, 
virtue, vice, all are confounded in the grave. A few years hence, will the public any more exalt 
the ones than it condemns the others? Why, no, once again, I say no, and the wretch who has 
lived a stranger to joy, dies, alas, unrewarded. 

EUGENIE— How thoroughly you persuade me, my angel, what a straight way you make 
with my prejudices, what short work you make of all the false principles my mother planted 
in me! Oh, I would be married tomorrow in order immediately to put your maxims into use. 
How seductive they are, how true, and how much I love them! Only one thing troubles me, 
dear one, in what you have just said to me, and as I understand it not at all, I beg you to 
explain: your husband, you declare, does not, when he takes his pleasure with you, strike an 
attitude such as would produce children: what then, pray tell, does he do? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My husband was already advanced in years when I married 
him. On our wedding night he gave me notice of his fancies, the while assuring me that, for 
his part, never would he interfere with mine; I swore to obey him and we have always, since 
then, he and I, lived in the most delicious independence and mutual understanding. My 
husband's whim is to have himself sucked, and here is the most unusual practice joined as a 
corollary to that one: while, as I bend over him, my buttocks squarely over his face and 
cheerily pumping the fuck from his balls, I must shit in his mouth! ... He swallows it down! . 

EUGENIE— Now there's a most extraordinary notion! 

DOLMANCE— None may be qualified thus, my dear: all are a part of Nature; when she 
created men, she was pleased to vary their tastes as she made different their countenances, 
and we ought no more be astonished at the diversity she has put in our features than at that 
she has placed in our affections. The fancy your friend has just mentioned could not be more 
a la mode; an infinite number of men, and principally those of a certain age, are prodigiously 
addicted to it; would you refuse your co-operation, Eugenie, were someone to require it of 

EUGENIE, turning red— In accordance with the maxims wherewith I am being inculcated 
here, can I refuse anything? I only ask to be forgiven my surprise; this is the first time I have 
heard of all these lubricities: I must first of all visualize them; but between the solution of 
the problem and the execution of the act, I believe my tutors can rest assured there will never 
be but the distance they themselves impose. However all that may be, my dear, you won your 
liberty by acquiescing to this duty? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— The most entire liberty, Eugenie. On my side, I did 
everything I wished without his raising any obstacles, but I took no lover: I was too fond of 
pleasure for that. Unlucky woman, she who is attached; she needs but take a lover to be lost, 
while ten scenes of libertinage, repeated every day, if she wishes, vanish into the night of 
silence instantly they are consummated. I was wealthy: I had young men in my pay, they 
fucked me incognito, I surrounded myself with charming valets, assured of tasting the 
sweetest pleasures with me upon condition of discretion, certain they would be thrown out- 
of-doors if they so much as opened their mouths. You have no idea, dear heart, of the torrent 
of delights into which, in this manner, I did plunge. Such is the conduct I will always urge 
upon every woman who would imitate me. During my twelve married years I have been 
fucked by upward of ten or twelve thousand individuals . . . and in the company I keep I am 
thought well-behaved! Another would have had lovers; by the time she exchanged the first 
for the second she would have been doomed. 

EUGENIE— This seems the safest way of proceeding; most decidedly, it shall be mine; I 
must, like yourself, marry a rich man, and above all one with fancies. . . . But, my dear, your 
husband is strictly bound by his tastes? Does he never ask anything else of you? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Never in a dozen years has he been untrue to himself a 
single day, save when I am on an outing. Avery pretty girl he very much wanted me to take 
into the house then substitutes for me, and things proceed exceeding well. 

EUGENIE— But he doesn't stop there, surely? There are other objects, outside the house, 
competing to diversify his pleasures? 

DOLMANCE— Be certain there are, Eugenie; Madame's husband is one of the greatest 
libertines of the day; he spends above one hundred thousand crowns a year upon the obscene 
tastes your friend described to you but a moment ago. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— To tell the truth, I suspect the figure may be higher; but 
what are his excesses to me, since their multiplicity authorizes and camouflages my own? 

EUGENIE— I beseech you, let us follow in detail the manners by which a young person, 
married or not, may preserve herself from pregnancy, for I confess I am made most timorous 
by dread of it, whether it be the work of the husband I must take, or the effect of a career of 
libertinage. You have just indicated one means while speaking of your husband's tastes; but 
this fashion of taking one's pleasure, which may be highly agreeable to the man, does not 
seem as pleasurable for the woman, and it is our dalliances, exempt from the risks I fear, that 
I desire you to discuss. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— A girl risks having a child only in proportion to the 
frequency with which she permits the man to invade her cunt. Let her scrupulously avoid this 
manner of tasting delight; in its stead, let her offer indiscriminately her hand, her mouth, her 
breasts, or her ass. This last thoroughfare will yield her considerable pleasure, far more, 
indeed, than any other; by means of the others she will give pleasure. 

In the first instance, that is to say, the one which brings the hand into play, one proceeds 
in the fashion you observed a short while ago, Eugenie; one shakes one's friend's member as 
if one were pumping it; after a little agitation, the sperm is emitted; meanwhile, the man 
kisses, caresses you, and with this liquid wets that part of your body whereof he is fondest. If 
one wishes to have it distributed over the breasts, one stretches upon the bed, the virile 
member is fitted between the two tits, they are compressed, and after a few passes the man 
discharges so as to flood you sometimes up to the height of your face. This manner is the 
least voluptuous of all and can only suit those women whose breasts, from repeated usage, 
have acquired that flexibility, that looseness needed to grip the man's member tightly when 
clamped between them. Pleasure incepted at the mouth is infinitely more agreeable, quite as 
much for the man as for the woman. The best way to go about it is for the woman to lie 
prone, contrariwise to her fucker and upon his body: he pops his prick into your mouth and, 
his head being lodged between your thighs, he repays in kind what you do for him, by 
introducing his tongue into your cunt or by playing it over your clitoris; when employing this 
attitude one must show spirit, catch hold of the buttocks, and the partners should finger and 
tickle each other's asshole, a measure always necessary to complete voluptuousness. Spirited 
lovers, those full of imagination, therewith swallow the fuck which squirts into their mouths, 
and thus delicately they enjoy the exquisite pleasure of mutually causing this precious liquid, 
mechanically diverted from its customary destination, to pass into their entrails. 

DOLMANCE— Eugenie, 'tis a delicious method. I recommend to you its execution. Thus to 
cheat propagation of its rights and to contradict what fools call the laws of Nature, is truly 
most charming. The thighs, the armpits also sometimes provide asylum to the man's member 
and offer him retreats where his seed may be spilled without risk of pregnancy. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Some women insert sponges into the vagina's interior; 
these, intercepting the sperm, prevent it from springing into the vessel where generation 
occurs. Others oblige their fuckers to make use of a little sack of Venetian skin, in the vulgate 
called a condom, which the semen fills and where it is prevented from flowing farther. But of 
all the possibilities, that presented by the ass is without any doubt the most delicious. 
Dolmance, to you I reserve the dissertations thereupon. Who better than you might be able to 
describe a taste in whose defense, were it to require any defense, you would lay down your 

DOLMANCE— I acknowledge my weakness. I admit as well that in all the world there is no 
mode of pleasure-taking preferable to this; I worship it in either sex; but I'll confess a young 
lad's ass gives me yet more pleasure than a girl's. Buggers is the appellation designating 
those who are this fancy's adepts; now, Eugenie, when one goes so far as to be a bugger, one 
must not stop halfway. To fuck women in the rear is but the first part of buggery; 'tis with 
men Nature wishes men to practice this oddity, and it is especially for men she has given us 
an inclination. Absurd to say the mania offends Nature; can it be so, when 'tis she who puts it 
into our head? can she dictate what degrades her? No, Eugenie, not at all; this is as good a 
place to serve her as any other, and perhaps it is there she is most devoutly worshiped. 
Propagation owes its existence to her forbearance. How could she have prescribed as law an 
act which challenges her omnipotence, since propagation is but a consequence of her primary 
intentions, and since new constructions, wrought by her hand, were our species to be 
destroyed absolutely, would become again primordial intentions whose accomplishment 
would be far more flattering to her pride and to her power? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Do you know, Dolmance, that by means of this system you 
are going to be led to prove that totally to extinguish the human race would be nothing but to 
render Nature a service? 

DOLMANCE- Who doubts of it, Madame? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My God! wars, plagues, famines, murders would no longer 
be but accidents, necessary to Nature's laws, and man, whether instrumental to or the object 
of these effects, would hence no longer be more a criminal in the one case than he would be a 
victim in the other? 

DOLMANCE— Victim he is, without doubt, when he bends before the blows of ill fortune; 
but criminal, never. We shall have more to say about all these things; for the moment, in the 
lovely Eugenie's behalf, let's analyze sodomistic pleasures, which presently are the subject of 
our discussion. In this mode of pleasure-seeking, the posture most commonly adopted by the 
woman is for her to lie belly down upon the edge of the bed, the buttocks well spread, the 
head as low as possible; after having mused for an instant upon the splendid prospect of a 
ready and beckoning ass, after having patted it, slapped it a bit, handled it, sometimes after 
having beaten or whipped it, pinched and bitten it, the rake moistens with his mouth the 
pretty little hole he is about to perforate, and prepares his entry with the tip of his tongue; in 
similar wise, he wets his engine with saliva, or with pomade, and gently presents it to the 
aperture he intends to pierce; he guides it with one hand, with the other he lays wide open 
the cheeks of his delight; immediately he feels his member penetrate, he must thrust 
energetically, taking all due care not to give ground; then it is, occasionally, the woman 
suffers, if she is new, or young; but, totally heedless of the pangs which are soon to change 
into pleasures, the fucker must be lively and drive his engine ahead, inch by inch, gradually, 
but with determination, till at last he is arrived at his objective, till, that is to say, his device's 
hairs precisely rub the anal rim of the embuggered party. Then may he give free rein to 
himself; all the thorns are plucked from out his path, there remain roses only there. To 
complete the metamorphosis into pleasures of what distresses his object still experiences, if 
it be a boy, let him seize his prick and frig it; let him twiddle her clitoris, if 'tis a girl; the 
titillations of the pleasure he will cause to be born will in turn work a prodigious contraction 

in the patient's anus, and will double the delight of the agent who, overwhelmed with 
comfort, will soon dart, to the very depths of the ass of his delight, a sperm quite as abundant 
as thick, thus determined by so many lubricious details. There are some who do not care to 
have the patient take pleasure in the operation; an attitude we will account for in good time. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Allow me to be the scholar for a moment, and let me ask 
you, Dolmance, in what state the patient's ass must be in order to ensure the agent a 
maximum of pleasure? 

DOLMANCE— Full, by all means; 'tis essential the object in use have the most imperious 
desire to shit, so that the end of the fucker's prick, reaching the turd, may drive deep into it, 
and may more warmly and more softly deposit there the fuck which irritates and sets it afire. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I fear the patient's pleasure is less. 

DOLMANCE— Error! This method of pleasure-taking is such that there exists no 
possibility of the fucker's receiving hurt nor of the employed object's failing to be transported 
into seventh heaven. No other matches this in value, no other can so completely satisfy each 
of the protagonists, and they who have tasted of it know a great difficulty in abandoning it for 
another. Such, Eugenie, are the best ways of taking pleasure with a man if the perils of 
pregnancy are to be avoided; for one enjoys— and be very certain of it— not only offering a 
man one's ass, but also sucking and frigging him, etc., and I have known libertine ladies who 
often had an higher esteem for this byplay than for real pleasures. The imagination is the 
spur of delights; in those of this order, all depends upon it, it is the mainspring of everything; 
now, is it not by means of the imagination one knows joy? is it not of the imagination that 
there come the most piquant delights? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Indeed; but let Eugenie beware thereof; the imagination 
serves us not save when our mind is absolutely free of prejudices: but a single one will suffice 
to chill it. This capricious portion of our mind is so libertine nothing can restrain it; its 
greatest triumph, its most eminent delights come of exceeding all limits imposed upon it; of 
all regularity it is an enemy, it worships disorder, idolizes whatever wears the brand of crime; 
whence derived the extraordinary reply of an imaginative woman who was fucking coolly 
with her husband: "Why this ice?" quoth he. "Ah, truly," answered this singular creature, "'tis 
all very dull, what you are doing with me." 

EUGENIE— I adore the remark. . . . Ah, my dear, how great is my urge to become 
acquainted with these divine outbursts of a disordered imagination! You'd never believe it, 
but during our stay together . . . since the instant we met— no, no, my darling, never could you 

conceive all the voluptuous ideas my brain has caressed Oh, how well I now understand 

what is evil . . . how much it is desired of my heart! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— May atrocities, horrors, may the most odious crimes 
astonish you no more, my Eugenie; what is of the filthiest, the most infamous, the most 
forbidden, 'tis that which best rouses the intellect . . . 'tis that which always causes us most 
deliciously to discharge. 

EUGENIE— To how many incredible perversities must you not, the one and the other, have 

surrendered yourselves! And how I should relish hearing the details! 

DOLMANCE, kissing and fondling the young lady— Beauteous Eugenie, a hundred times 
more would I love to see you experience all I should love to do, rather than to relate to you 
what I have done. 

EUGENIE— I know not whether it would be too good for me to accede to everything. 
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I would not advise it, Eugenie. 

EUGENIE— Very well, I spare Dolmance his narrations; but you, my dear, pray tell me 
what they are, the most extraordinary things you have done in your life? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I engaged fifteen men, alone; in twenty-four hours, I was 
ninety times fucked, as much before as behind. 

EUGENIE— Mere debauches, those, tours de force; I dare wager you have done yet more 
uncommon things. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I passed a term in a brothel. 

EUGENIE— And what does that word mean? 

DOLMANCE— Such are called the public houses where in consideration of a price agreed 
upon, each man finds young and pretty girls in good sort to satisfy his passions. 

EUGENIE— And you gave yourself there, my dearest? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yes; there I was, a perfect whore; there during an entire 
week I satisfied the whims of a goodly number of lechers, and there I beheld the most 
unusual tastes displayed; moved by a similar libertine principle, like the celebrated empress 
Theodora, Justinian's wife, 1 1 waylaid men in the streets, upon public promenades, and the 
money I earned from these prostitutions I spent at the lottery. 

EUGENIE— My dear, I know that mind of yours: you've gone still further than that. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Were it possible? 

EUGENIE— Why, yes! Yes, and this is how I fancy it: have you not told me our most 
delicious moral sensations come of the imagination? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I did say so. 

EUGENIE— Then, by allowing this imagination to stray, by according it the freedom to 
overstep those ultimate boundaries religion, decency, humaneness, virtue, in a word, all our 
pretended obligations would like to prescribe to it, is it not possible that the imagination's 
extravagances would be prodigious? 


EUGENIE— Well, is it not by reason of the immensity of these extravagances that the 
imagination will be the more inflamed? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Nothing more true. 

EUGENIE— If that is so, the more we wish to be agitated, the more we desire to be moved 
violently, the more we must give rein to our imagination; we must bend it toward the 
inconceivable; our enjoyment will thereby be increased, made better for the track the intellect 
follows, and . . . 

DOLMANCE, kissing Eugenie— Delicious! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My, but how our little rascal has progressed, and in such a 
brief space! But, do you know, my charming one, that one can go very far by the route you 
trace for us. 

EUGENIE— I understand it very nicely thus; and since I will subject myself to no 
inhibitions, you see to what lengths I suppose one may go. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— To crime, vicious creature, to the blackest, most frightful 

EUGENIE, in a lowered and halting voice— But you say no crime exists there . . . and after 
all, it is but to fire the mind: one thinks, but one does not do. 

DOLMANCE— However, 'tis very sweet to carry out what one has fancied. 

EUGENIE,/7us/nng— Well, then, carry it out Would you not like to persuade me, dear 

teachers, that you have never done what you have conceived? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— It has sometimes been given to me to do it 

EUGENIE— There we are! 

DOLMANCE-Ah! what a mind. 

EUGENIE, continuing— What I ask you is this: what have you fancied, and then, having 
fancied, what have you done? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, sfammerzng-Someday, Eugenie, I shall . . . relate my life to 
you. Let us continue our instruction ... for you would bring me to say things . . . things . . . 

EUGENIE— Ah, begone! I see you do not love me enough fully to open your soul to me; I 
shall wait as long as you say; let's get on with the particulars. Tell me, my dear, who was the 
happy mortal who intended at your beginnings? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My brother: from childhood on he adored me; during our 
earliest years we often amused each other without attaining our goal; I promised to give 
myself to him immediately I married; I kept my word; happily, my husband damaged 

nothing: my brother harvested all. We continue with our intrigue, but without hampering 
ourselves; we do not— he on his part, I on mine— plunge ourselves into anything but the most 
divine of libertinage's excesses; we even mutually serve one another: I procure women for 
him, he introduces me to men. 

EUGENIE— Delightful arrangement! But, is not incest a crime? 

DOLMANCE— Might one so regard Nature's gentlest unions, the ones she most insistently 
prescribes to us and counsels most warmly? Eugenie, a moment of reason: how, after the vast 
afflictions our planet sometime knew, how was the human species otherwise able to 
perpetuate itself, if not through incest? Of which we find, do we not, the example and the 
proof itself in the books Christianity respects most highly. By what other means could 
Adam's family 2 and that of Noah have been preserved? Sift, examine universal custom: 
everywhere you will detect incest authorized, considered a wise law and proper to cement 
familial ties. If, in a word, love is born of resemblance, where may it be more perfect than 
between brother and sister, between father and daughter? An ill-founded policy, one 
produced by the fear lest certain families become too powerful, bans incest from our midst; 
but let us not abuse ourselves to the point of mistaking for natural law what is dictated to us 
only by interest or ambition; let us delve into our hearts: 'tis always there I send our pedantic 
moralists; let us but question this sacred organ and we will notice that nothing is more 
exquisite than carnal connection within the family; let us cease to be blind with what 
concerns a brother's feelings for his sister, a father's for his daughter: in vain does one or the 
other disguise them behind a mask of legitimate tenderness: the most violent love is the 
unique sentiment ablaze in them, the only one Nature has deposited in their hearts. Hence, 
let us double, triple these delicious incests, fearlessly multiply them, and let us believe that 
the more straitly the object of our desires does belong to us, the greater charm shall there be 
in enjoying it. 

One of my friends has the habit of living with the girl he had by his own mother; not a 
week ago he deflowered a thirteen-year-old boy, fruit of his commerce with this girl; in a few 
years' time, this same lad will wed his mother: such are my friend's wishes; he is readying for 
them all a destiny analogous to the projects he delights in and his intentions, I know very 
well, are yet to enjoy what this marriage will bring to bear; he is young and he has cause to 
hope for the best. Consider, gentle Eugenie, with what a quantity of incests and crimes this 
honest friend would be soiled were there a jot of truth in the low notion that would have us 
define these alliances as evil. To be brief, in all these matters I base my attitude upon one 
principle: had Nature condemned sodomy's pleasures, incestuous correspondences, 
pollutions, and so forth, would she have allowed us to find so much delight in them? That she 
may tolerate what outrages her is unthinkable. 

EUGENIE— Oh! My divine teachers, I see full well that, according to your doctrine, there 
are very few crimes in the world, and that we may peacefully follow the bent of all our 
desires, however singular they may appear to fools who, shocked and alarmed by everything, 
stupidly confuse social institutions for Nature's divine ordinations. And yet, my friends, do 
you not at least acknowledge that there exist certain actions absolutely revolting and 
decidedly criminal, although enjoined by Nature? I am nothing loath to agree with you, that 
this Nature, as extraordinary in the productions she creates as various in the penchants she 
gives us, sometimes moves us to cruel deeds; but if, surrendered to depravity, we were to 

yield to this bizarre Nature's promptings, were we to go so far as to attempt, let me suppose, 
the lives of our fellows, you will surely grant me, at least I do hope so, that such an act would 
be a crime? 

DOLMANCE— Indeed, Eugenie, little good would it do for us to grant you anything of the 
sort. Destruction being one of the chief laws of Nature, nothing that destroys can be criminal; 
how might an action which so well serves Nature ever be outrageous to her? This destruction 
of which man is wont to boast is, moreover, nothing but an illusion; murder is no 
destruction; he who commits it does but alter forms, he gives back to Nature the elements 
whereof the hand of this skilled artisan instantly re-creates other beings: now, as creations 
cannot but afford delight to him by whom they are wrought, the murderer thus prepares for 
Nature a pleasure most agreeable, he furnishes her materials, she employs them without 
delay, and the act fools have had the madness to blame is nothing but meritorious in the 
universal agent's eye. 'Tis our pride prompts us to elevate murder into crime. Esteeming 
ourselves the foremost of the universe's creatures, we have stupidly imagined that every hurt 
this sublime creature endures must perforce be an enormity; we have believed Nature would 
perish should our marvelous species chance to be blotted out of existence, while the whole 
extirpation of the breed would, by returning to Nature the creative faculty she has entrusted 
to us, reinvigorate her, she would have again that energy we deprive her of by propagating our 
own selves; but what an inconsequence, Eugenie! Indeed! an ambitious sovereign can 
destroy, at his ease and without the least scruple, the enemies prejudicial to his grandiose 

designs Cruel laws, arbitrary, imperious laws can likewise every century assassinate 

millions of individuals and we, feeble and wretched creatures, we are not allowed to sacrifice 
a single being to our vengeance or our caprice! Is there anything so barbarous, so outlandish, 
so grotesque? and, cloaking ourselves in the profoundest mystery, must we not amply 
compensate ourselves for this ineptitude, and have revenge? 3 

EUGENIE— Yes, of course . . . Oh, but your ethics seduce me, and how I savor their 
bouquet! Yet, wait, Dolmance, tell me now, in good conscience, whether you have not 
sometimes had satisfaction in crime? 

DOLMANCE— Do not force me to reveal my faults to you: their number and kind might 
bring me excessively to blush; Perhaps someday I'll confess them to you. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- While guiding the law's blade, the criminal has often 
employed it to satisfy his passions. 

DOLMANCE— Would that I have no other reproaches to make myself! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, throwing her arms about his neck— Divine man! ... I adore 
you! . . . What spirit, what courage are needed to have tasted every pleasure, as have you! 'Tis 
to the man of genius only there is reserved the honor of shattering all the links and shackles 
of ignorance and stupidity. Kiss me— oh, you are charming! 

DOLMANCE— Be frank, Eugenie, tell me: have you never wished the death of anyone? 

EUGENIE— Oh, I have! Yes! there is every day before my eyes an abominable creature I 
have long wished to see in her grave. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Now, I dare say I have guessed her name. 
EUGENIE- Whom do you suspect? 
EUGENIE— Oh, let me hide myself upon your breast! 

DOLMANCE— Voluptuous creature! in my turn I would overwhelm her with the caresses 
that should be the reward of her heart's energy and her exquisite mind. (Dolmance kisses her 
entire body and bestows light smacks upon her buttocks; he has an erection; his hands, 
from time to time, stray also over Madame de Saint-Ange's behind which is lubriciously 
tendered him; restored a little to his senses, Dolmance proceeds.) But why should we not put 
this sublime idea into execution? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Eugenie, I detested my mother quite as much as you hate 
yours, and I hesitated not. 

EUGENIE— The means have been lacking to me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— The courage, rather. 

EUGENIE— Alas ! still so young. 

DOLMANCE— But, Eugenie, now what would you do? 

EUGENIE— Everything . . . only show me the way and you'll see! 

DOLMANCE— It will be shown you, Eugenie, I promise it; but thereunto, I put a condition. 

EUGENIE— And what is it? or rather what is the condition I am not ready to accept? 

DOLMANCE— Come, my rascal, come into my arms: I can hold off no longer; your 
charming behind must be the price of the gift I promise you, one crime has got to pay for 
another. Come hither! . . . nay, both, the two of you, run to drown in floods of fuck the 
heavenly fire that blazes in us! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— If you please, let us put a little order in these revels; 
measure is required even in the depths of infamy and delirium. 

DOLMANCE— Nothing easier: the major object, so it appears to me, is that I discharge the 
while giving this charming girl all possible pleasure: I am going to insert my prick in her ass; 
meanwhile, as she reclines in your arms you will frig her; do your utmost; by means of the 
position I place you in, she will be able to retaliate in kind; you will kiss one another. After a 
few runs into this child's ass, we will vary the picture: I will have you, Madame, by the ass; 
Eugenie, on top of you, your head between her legs, will present her clitoris to me; I'll suck it: 
thus I'll cause her to come a second time. Next, I will lodge my prick in her anus; you will 
avail me of your ass, 'twill take the place of the cunt she had under my nose, and now you will 
have at it in the style she will have employed, her head now between your legs; I'll suck your 

asshole as I have just sucked her cunt, you will discharge, so will I, and all the while my hand, 
embracing the dear sweet pretty little body of this charming novice, will go ahead to tickle her 
clitoris that she too may swoon from delight. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Capital, my Dolmance, but will not there be something 

DOLMANCE— A prick in my ass? Madame, you are right. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Let's do without it this morning: we'll have it in the 
afternoon: my brother will join us and our pleasures will be at their height. Now let's to work. 

DOLMANCE— I think I'll have Eugenie frig me for a moment. (She does so.) Yes, quite, 
that's it ... a bit more quickly, my heart . . . that rosy head must always be kept naked, never 
let it be covered over, the more 'tis kept taut the more you facilitate the erection . . . never, 
you must never cap the prick you frig. . . 'Tis very well done . . . thus you yourself put into a 

proper state the member that is to perforate you Notice how it responds, gets sturdily up. 

. . . Give me your tongue, little bitch Let your ass rest on my right hand, while my left 

goes on to toy with your clitoris. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Eugenie, would you like to cause him to taste the extremest 

EUGENIE— By all means ... I wish to do everything to give him them. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Why, then take his prick in your mouth and suck it a few 

EUGENIE, does zf-Thus? 

DOLMANCE— Delicious mouth! what warmth! Worth as much to me as the prettiest ass! . 
. . Voluptuous, tactful, accomplished woman, never deny your lovers this pleasure: 'twill bind 
them to you forever ... Ah! by God! ah, by God's own fuck! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— My, what blasphemies, my friend. 

DOLMANCE— I'll have your ass, Madame, if you please Yes, give it me, let me kiss it 

while I'm sucked, and be not astonished at my language: one of my largest pleasures is to 
swear in God's name when I'm stiff. It seems then that my spirit, at such a moment exalted a 
thousand times more, abhors, scorns this disgusting fiction; I would like to discover some 
way better to revile it or to outrage it further; and when my accursed musings lead me to the 
conviction of the nullity of this repulsive object of my hatred, I am irritated and would 
instantly like to be able to re-edify the phantom so that my rage might at least fall upon some 
target; imitate me, charming women, and you will observe such discourses to increase 
without fail your sensibility. But, by God's very damnation, I say, I've got absolutely, 
whatever be my pleasure, I've got to retire from this celestial mouth . . . else I'll leave my fuck 
in it! . . . All right, Eugenie, move! let's get on with the scene I proposed and, the three of us, 
let's be plunged into the most voluptuous drunkenness. (The positions are arranged.) 

EUGENIE— Oh, how I fear, dear one, that your efforts will come to naught! The 
disproportion is exceedingly strong. 

DOLMANCE— Why, I sodomize the very youngest every day; just yesterday a little lad of 

seven was deflowered by that prick, and in less than three minutes Courage, Eugenie, 

courage! . . . 

EUGENIE— Oh! You're tearing me! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— A little management there, Dolmance; remember, I am 
responsible for the creature. 

DOLMANCE— Then frig her, Madame, she'll feel the pain less; but there! 'tis said, 'tis 
done! I'm in up to the hilt. 

EUGENIE— Oh heaven! it is not without trouble . . . see the sweat on my forehead, dear 
friend Ah! God, I've never undergone such agonies! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yet there you are, dear heart, half deflowered, there you are, 
arrived at a woman's estate; 'tis well worth purchasing the glory at the cost of a little 
inconvenience; my fingers then do not soothe you at all? 

EUGENIE— Could I have borne it without them! . . . Tickle away, rub, my angel I feel it, 

imperceptibly the pain metamorphoses into pleasure Push, Dolmance! . . . thrust! thrust! 

oh, I am dying! . . . 

DOLMANCE— O by God's holy fuck! thrice bloody fuck of God! Let's change! I'll not be 
able to hold . . . your behind, kind lady, I beseech you, your ass, quick, place yourself as I told 
you. (Shift of attitude, and Dolmance goes on J'Tis easier so . . . how my prick penetrates . . . 
but, Madame, this noble ass is not the less delicious for that 

EUGENIE— Am I as I should be, Dolmance? 

DOLMANCE— Admirably! I've got this little virgin cunt all to myself, delicious. Oh, I'm a 
guilty one, a villain, indeed I know it; such charms were not made for my eyes; but the desire 
to provide this child with a firm grounding in voluptuousness overshadows every other 
consideration. I want to make her fuck to flow, if 'tis possible I want to exhaust her, drink her 
dry (He sucks her.) 

EUGENIE— This pleasure will kill me, I can't resist it! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I'm coming, I say! Oh fuck! . . . fuck! . . . Dolmance, I'm 
discharging! . . . 

EUGENIE— And I too, my darling! Oh, my God, how he does suck me! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Then swear, little whore, curse! . . . Then cry an oath! . . . 

EUGENIE— All right then, damn thee! I discharge! Damn thee! ... I am so sweetly drunk! . 

DOLMANCE— To your post! . . . Take up your station! . . . Eugenie! . . . I'll be the dupe of 
these handlings and shifts. (Eugenie assumes her place.) Ah, good! here again am I, at my 

original place and abode . . . exhibit your asshole, Madame, I'll pump it at my leisure Oh, 

but I love to kiss an ass I've just left off fucking. ... Ah! lick up mine, do you hear, while I 

drive my sperm deep home into your friend's Wouldst believe it, Madame? in it goes, and 

this time effortlessly! Ah, fuck! fuck! you've no idea how it squeezes, how she clamps me! 
Holy frigging God, what ecstasy! . . . Oh, 'tis there, 'tis done, I resist no longer . . . flow! my 
fluid flows! . . . and I die! . . . 

EUGENIE— He causes me to die also, my friend, I swear it to you 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— The wench! how promptly she's taken to it! 

DOLMANCE— Yes, but I know countless girls of her age nothing on earth could force to 
take their pleasure otherwise; 'tis only the first encounter that taxes; a woman has no sooner 

tried that sauce and she'll eat no other cookery Oh heavens! I'm spent; let me get my 

breath, a few moments' respite, please. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— There they are, my dear: men. A glance at us, no more, and 
their desires are satisfied; the subsequent annihilation conducts them to disgust, soon to 

DOLMANCE, coolly— Why, what an insult, heavenly creature! (They embrace.) The one 
and the other of you are made for naught but homages, whatever be the state wherein one 
finds oneself. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Console yourself, Eugenie; while they may have acquired the 
right to neglect us because they are sated, have we not in the same way that to scorn them, 
when their conduct bids us to it? If Tiberius sacrificed to Caprea the objects that had just 
appeased his hungers, 4 Zingua, Africa's queen, also immolated her lovers. 5 

DOLMANCE— Such excesses, perfectly simple and very intelligible to me, doubtless, all the 
same ought never be committed amongst ourselves: "Wolves are safe in their own company," 
as the proverb has it, and trivial though it may be, 'tis true. My friends, dread nothing from 
me, ever: I'll perhaps have you do much that is evil, but never will I do any to you. 

EUGENIE— No, my dear, I dare be held answerable for it: never will Dolmance abuse the 
privileges we grant him; I believe he has the roue's probity: it is the best; but let us bring our 
teacher back to his theorems and, before our senses subside into calm, let us return, I beg of 
you, to the great design that inflamed us before. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— What, dost think yet on that? I thought 'twas no more than a 
little intellectual effervescence. 

EUGENIE— It is the most certain impulse of my heart, and I'll not be content till the crime 
is done. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh splendid! splendid! Let her off, though; consider: she is 
your mother. 

EUGENIE— Noble title! 

DOLMANCE— She is right: did this mother think of Eugenie when she brought her into the 
world? The jade let herself be fucked because she found it agreeable, but she was very far 
from having this daughter in mind. Let her act as she sees fit with what regards her mother; 
let's allow her complete freedom and we'll be content to assure her that, whatever be the 
extreme lengths she goes to, never will she render herself guilty of any evil. 

EUGENIE— I abhor her, I detest her, a thousand causes justify my hate; I've got to have 
her life at no matter what the cost! 

DOLMANCE— Very well, since your resolve is unshakable, you'll be satisfied, Eugenie, I 
give you my oath; but permit me a few words of advice which, before you act, are of the 
utmost necessity. Never let your secret go out of your mouth, my dear, and always act alone: 
nothing is more dangerous than an accomplice: let us always beware of even those whom we 
think most closely attached to us: "One must," wrote Machiavelli, "either have no 
confederates, or dispatch them as soon as one has made use of them." Nor is that all: guile, 
Eugenie, guile is indispensable to the projects you are forming. Move closer than ever to your 
victim before destroying her; have the look of sympathy for her, seem to console her; cajole 
her, partake of her sufferings, swear you worship her; do yet more: persuade her of it: deceit, 
in such instances, cannot be carried too far. Nero caressed Agrippina upon the deck of the 
very bark with which she was to be engulfed: imitate his example, use all the knavery, all the 
imposture your brain can invent. To lie is always a necessity for women; above all when they 
choose to deceive, falsehood becomes vital to them. 

EUGENIE— Those instructions will be remembered and, no doubt, put into effect; but let 
us delve deeper into this deceit whose usage you recommend to women; think you then that 
it is absolutely essential in this world? 

DOLMANCE— Without hesitation I say I know of nothing more necessary in life; one 
certain truth shall prove its indispensability: everyone employs it; I ask, in the light of that, 
how a sincere individual will not always founder in the midst of a society of false people. 
Now, if 'tis true, as they declare, that virtues are of some usefulness in civil life, how would 
you have someone unprovided with either will, or power, or the gift of any virtue, which is 
the case with many persons, how, I ask you, would you have it that such a personage be not 
essentially obliged to feign, to dissemble, in order to obtain, in his turn, a little portion of the 
happiness his competitors seek to wrest away from him? And, in effect, it is very surely 
virtue, or might it not be the appearance of virtue, which really becomes necessary to social 
man? Let's not doubt that the appearance alone is quite sufficient to him: he has got that, and 
he possesses all he needs. Since one does nothing in this world but pinch, rub, and elbow 
others, is it not enough that they display their skin to us? Let us moreover be well persuaded 
that of the practice of virtue we can at the very most say that it is hardly useful save to him 
who has it; others reap so little therefrom that so long as the man who must live amongst 
other men appears virtuous, it matters not in the slightest whether he is so in fact or not. 
Deceit, furthermore, is almost always an assured means to success; he who possesses deceit 

necessarily begins with an advantage over whosoever has commerce or correspondence with 
him: dazzling him with a false exterior, he gains his confidence; convince others to place trust 
in you, and you have succeeded. I perceive someone has deceived me, I have only myself to 
blame; and he who has conned me has done so all the more prettily if because of pride I make 
no complaint and bear it all nobly; his ascendancy over me will always be pronounced; he will 
be right, I wrong; he will advance, I'll recede; he is great, I am nothing; he will be enriched, I 
ruined; in a word, always above me, he'll straightway capture public opinion; once arrived 
there, useless for me to inculpate him, I'll simply not be heard; and so boldly and unceasingly 
we'll give ourselves over to the most infamous deceit; let us behold it as the key to every 
grace, every favor, all reputation, all riches, and by means of the keen pleasure of acting 
villainously, let us placate the little twinge our conscience feels at having manufactured 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Having there infinitely more on the matter than, so it 
appears to me, is needed, Eugenie, well convinced, ought also to be reassured, encouraged: 
she will take action when she pleases. We had now better resume our dissertations upon 
men's various libertine caprices; the field should be vast; let's survey it; we've just initiated 
our student into a few of the practice's mysteries, let's not neglect theory. 

DOLMANCE— The libertine details of masculine passions, Madame, have little therein to 
provide suitable stuff for the instruction of a girl who, like Eugenie, is not destined for the 
whoring profession; she will marry and, such being the hypothesis, one may stake ten to one 
on it, her husband will have none of those inclinations; however, were he to have them, her 
wiser conduct is readily to be described: much gentleness, a readiness ever to comply, good 
humor; on the other hand, much deceit and ample but covert compensation: those few words 
contain it all. However, were you, Eugenie, to desire some analysis of men's preferences 
when they resort to libertinage, we might, in order most lucidly to examine the question, 
generally reduce those tastes to three: sodomy, sacrilegious fancies, and penchants to 
cruelty. The first of these passions is universal today; to what we have already said upon it, 
we shall join a few choice reflections. It divides into two classes, active and passive: the man 
who embuggers, be it a boy, be it a woman, acquits himself of an active sodomization; he is a 
passive sodomite when he has himself buggered. The question has often been raised, which 
of the two fashions of sodomistic behavior is the more voluptuous? assuredly, 'tis the 
passive, since one enjoys at a single stroke the sensations of before and behind; it is so sweet 
to change sex, so delicious to counterfeit the whore, to give oneself to a man who treats us as 
if we were a woman, to call that man one's paramour, to avow oneself his mistress! Ah! my 
friends, what voluptuousness! But, Eugenie, we shall limit ourselves here to a few details of 
advice relating only to women who, transforming themselves into men, wish, like us, to enjoy 
this delicious pleasure. I have just familiarized you with those attacks, Eugenie, and I have 
observed enough to be persuaded you will one of these days make admirable progress in this 
career; I exhort you to pursue it diligently as one of the most delightful of the Cytherean isle, 
and am perfectly sure you will follow my counsel. I'll restrict myself to two or three 
suggestions essential to every person determined henceforth to know none but these 
pleasures or ones analogous. First of all, be mindful also of yourself, insist your clitoris be 
frigged while you are being buggered: no two things harmonize so sweetly as do these two 
pleasures; avoid a douche, let there be no rubbing upon the sheets, no wiping with towels, 
when you have just been fucked in this style; 'tis a good idea to have the breech open always; 

whereof result desires, and titillations which soon obviate any concern for tidiness; there is 
no imagining to what point the sensations are prolonged. Prior to sodomite amusements 
remember to avoid acids: they aggravate haemorrhoids and render introductions painful: do 
not permit several men to discharge one after the other into your ass: this mixture of sperms, 
however it may excite the imagination, is never beneficial and often dangerous to the health; 
always rid yourself of each emission before allowing the next to be deposited. 

EUGENIE— But if they were to be made in my cunt, should that purging not be a crime? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Imagine nothing of the sort, sweet little fool; there is not the 
least wrong in diverting a man's semen into a detour by one means or by another, because 
propagation is in no wise the objective of Nature; she merely tolerates it; from her viewpoint, 
the less we propagate, the better; and when we avoid it altogether, that's best of all. Eugenie, 
be the implacable enemy of this wearisome child-getting, and even in marriage incessantly 
deflect that perfidious liquor whose vegetation serves only to spoil our figures, which 
deadens our voluptuous sensations, withers us, ages and makes us fade and disturbs our 
health; get your husband to accustom himself to these losses; entice him into this or that 
passage, let him busy himself there and thus keep him from making his offerings at the 
temple; tell him you detest children, point out the advantages of having none. Keep a close 
watch over yourself in this article, my dear, for, I declare to you, I hold generation in such 
horror I should cease to be your friend the instant you were to become pregnant. If, however, 
the misfortune does occur, without yourself having been at fault, notify me within the first 
seven or eight weeks, and I'll have it very neatly remedied. Dread not infanticide; the crime is 
imaginary: we are always mistress of what we carry in our womb, and we do no more harm in 
destroying this kind of matter than in evacuating another, by medicines, when we feel the 

EUGENIE— But if the child is near the hour of its birth? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Were it in the world, we should still have the right to destroy 
it. In all the world there is no prerogative more secure than that of mothers over their 
children. No race has failed to recognize this truth: 'tis founded in reason, consecrated in 

DOLMANCE— The right is natural ... it is incontestable. The deific system's extravagance 
was the source of every one of those gross errors. The imbeciles who believed in God, 
persuaded that our existence is had of none but him and that immediately an embryo begins 
to mature, a little soul, emanation of God, comes straightway to animate it; these fools, I say, 
assuredly had to regard as a capital crime this small creature's undoing, because, according to 
them, it no longer belonged to men. 'Twas God's work; 'twas God's own: dispatch it without 
crime? No. Since, however, the torch of philosophy has dissipated all those impostures, since, 
the celestial chimera has been tumbled in the dust, since, better instructed of physics' laws 
and secrets, we have evolved the principle of generation, and now that this material 
mechanism offers nothing more astonishing to the eye than the development of a germ of 
wheat, we have been called back to Nature and away from human error. As we have 
broadened the horizon of our rights, we have recognized that we are perfectly free to take 
back what we only gave up reluctantly, or by accident, and that it is impossible to demand of 
any individual whomsoever that he become a father or a mother against his will; that this 

creature whether more or less on earth is not of very much consequence, and that we 
become, in a word, as certainly the masters of this morsel of flesh, however it be animated, as 
we are of the nails we pare from our fingers, or the excrements we eliminate through our 
bowels, because the one and the other are our own, and because we are absolute proprietors 
of what emanates from us. Having had elaborated for you, Eugenie, the very mediocre 
importance the act of murder has here on earth, you have been obliged to see of what slight 
consequence, similarly, must be everything that has to do with childbearing even if the act is 
perpetrated against a person who has arrived at the age of reason; unnecessary to embroider 
upon it: your high intelligence adds its own arguments to support my proofs. Peruse the 
history of the manner of all the world's peoples and you will unfailingly see that the practice 
is global; you will finally be convinced that it would be sheer imbecility to accord a very 
indifferent action the title of evil. 

EUGENIE,/zrsf to Dolmance—l cannot tell you to what point you persuade me. (Now 
addressing herself to Madame de Saint-Ange:) But tell me, my most dear, have you ever had 
occasion to employ the remedy you propose to me in order internally to destroy the fetus? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Twice, and both times with total success; but I must admit I 
have had recourse to it only at pregnancy's outset; however, I am acquainted with two ladies 
who have used the same remedy at mid-term, and they assure me it all came out as happily 
with them. Should you be in need, count upon me, my dear, but I urge you never to allow 
yourself to fall into a state of having need. An ounce of prevention . . . But back we go, and on 
with the lubricious details we have promised this young lady. Pursue, Dolmance; we've 
reached the sacrilegious fancies. 

DOLMANCE— I suppose Eugenie is sufficiently disabused on the score of religious errors 
to be intimately persuaded that sporting with the objects of fools' piety can have no sort of 
consequence. Sacrilegious fancies have so little substance to them that indeed they cannot 
heat any but those very youthful minds gladdened by any rupture of restraint; 'tis here a kind 
of petty vindictiveness which fires the imagination and which, very probably, can provoke a 
moment or two of enjoyment; but these delights, it would seem to me, must become insipid 
and cold when one is of an age to understand and to be convinced of the nullity of the objects 
of which the idols we jeer at are but meager likenesses. The profanation of relics, the images 
of saints, the host, the crucifix, all that, in the philosopher's view can amount to no more 
than the degradation of a pagan statue. Once your scorn has condemned those execrable 
baubles, you must leave them to contempt, and forget them; 'tis not wise to preserve 
anything for all that but blasphemy, not that blasphemy has much meaning, for as of the 
moment God does not exist, what's the use of insulting his name? but it is essential to 
pronounce hard and foul words during pleasure's intoxication, and the language of 
blasphemy very well serves the imagination. Be utterly unsparing; be lavish in your 
expressions; they must scandalize to the last degree; for 'tis sweet to scandalize: causing 
scandal flatters one's pride, and though this be a minor triumph, 'tis not to be disdained; I say 
it openly, Mesdames, such is one of my secret delights: few are the moral pleasures which 
more actively affect my imagination. Try it, Eugenie, and you shall see what results from it. 
Above all, labor to articulate a prodigious impiety when you find yourself with persons of 
your own age who yet vegetate in superstition's twilight; parade your debauchery, announce 
your libertinage; affect a whorish air, let them spy your breast when you go with them into 

secluded places, garb yourself indecently; flauntingly expose the most intimate parts of your 
body; require of your friends that they do the same; seduce them, lecture them, cause them 
to see what is ridiculous in their prejudices; put them eye to eye with what is called evil; in 
their company swear like a trooper; if they are younger than you, take them by force, ply 
them with examples or with counsels, entertain them with all you can think of that is, in a 
word, most apt to pervert them, thuswise corrupt them; similarly, be extremely free with 
men; display irreligion and impudence to them; far from taking umbrage at the liberties they 
will take, mysteriously grant them everything which can amuse them without compromising 
yourself; let yourself be handled by them, frig them, get yourself frigged; yes, go even so far 
as to lend them your ass; but, since the fictitious honor of women is bound up with their 
anterior integrity, be in a less willing humor to have it demolished; once married, secure a 
lackey, not a lover, or pay a few reliable young men: from there on, all is to be masked, and is; 
no more peril to your reputation and without anyone ever having been able to suspect you, 
you have learned the art of doing whatever you please. Let us move on. 

Cruel pleasures comprise the third sort we promised to analyze. This variety is today 
exceedingly common amongst men, and here is the argument they employ to justify them: 
we wish to be roused, stirred, they say, 'tis the aim of every man who pursues pleasure, and 
we would be moved by the most active means. Taking our departure from this point, it is not 
a question of knowing whether our proceedings please or displease the object that serves us, 
it is purely a question of exposing our nervous system to the most violent possible shock; 
now, there is no doubt that we are much more keenly affected by pain than by pleasure: the 
reverberations that result in us when the sensation of pain is produced in others will 
essentially be of a more vigorous character, more incisive, will more energetically resound in 
us, will put the animal spirits more violently into circulation and these, directing themselves 
toward the nether regions by the retrograde motion essential to them, instantly will ignite the 
organs of voluptuousness and dispose them to pleasure. Pleasure's effects, in women, are 
always uncertain; often disappointing; it is, furthermore, very difficult for an old or an ugly 
man to produce them. When it does happen that they are produced, they are feeble, and the 
nervous concussions fainter; hence, pain must be preferred, for pain's telling effects cannot 
deceive, and its vibrations are more powerful. But, one may object to men infatuated by this 
mania, this pain is afflictive to one's fellow; is it charitable to do others ill for the sake of 
delighting oneself? In answer thereto, the rascals reply that, accustomed in the pleasure- 
taking act to thinking exclusively of themselves and accounting others as nothing, they are 
persuaded that it is entirely reasonable, in accordance with natural impulsions, to prefer what 
they feel to what they do not feel. What, they dare ask, what do these pains occasioned in 
others do to us? Hurt us? No; on the contrary, we have just demonstrated that from their 
production there results a sensation delightful to us. For what reason then ought we to go 
softly with an individual who feels one thing while we feel another? Why should we spare 
him a torment that will cost us never a tear, when it is certain that from this suffering a very 
great pleasure for us will be born? Have we ever felt a single natural impulse advising us to 
prefer others to ourselves, and is each of us not alone, and for himself in this world? 'Tis a 
very false tone you use when you speak to us of this Nature which you interpret as telling us 
not to do to others what we would not have done to us; such stuff never came but from the 
lips of men, and weak men. Never does a strong man take it into his head to speak that 
language. They were the first Christians who, daily persecuted on account of their ridiculous 
doctrine, used to cry at whosoever chose to hear: "Don't burn us, don't flay us! Nature says 
one must not do unto others that which unto oneself one would not have done!" Fools! How 

could Nature, who always urges us to delight in ourselves, who never implants in us other 
instincts, other notions, other inspirations, how could Nature, the next moment, assure us 
that we must not, however, decide to love ourselves if that might cause others pain? Ah! 
believe me, Eugenie, believe me, Nature, mother to us all, never speaks to us save of 
ourselves; nothing has more of the egoistic than her message, and what we recognize most 
clearly therein is the immutable and sacred counsel: prefer thyself, love thyself, no matter at 
whose expense. But the others, they say to you, may avenge themselves. . . . Let them! the 
mightier will vanquish; he will be right. Very well, there it is, the primitive state of perpetual 
strife and destruction for which Nature's hand created us, and within which alone it is of 
advantage to her that we remain. 

Thus, my dear Eugenie, is the manner of these persons' arguing, and from my experience 
and studies I may add thereunto that cruelty, very far from being a vice, is the first sentiment 
Nature injects in us all. The infant breaks his toy, bites his nurse's breast, strangles his canary 
long before he is able to reason; cruelty is stamped in animals, in whom, as I think I have 
said, Nature's laws are more emphatically to be read than in ourselves; cruelty exists amongst 
savages, so much nearer to Nature than civilized men are; absurd then to maintain cruelty is 
a consequence of depravity. I repeat, the doctrine is false. Cruelty is natural. All of us are born 
furnished with a dose of cruelty education later modifies; but education does not belong to 
Nature, and is as deforming to Nature's sacred effects as arboriculture is to trees. In your 
orchards compare the tree abandoned to Nature's ministry with the other your art cares for, 
and you will see which is the more beautiful, you will discover from which you will pluck the 
superior fruit. Cruelty is simply the energy in a man civilization has not yet altogether 
corrupted: therefore it is a virtue, not a vice. Repeal your laws, do away with your constraints, 
your chastisements, your habits, and cruelty will have dangerous effects no more, since it will 
never manifest itself save when it meets with resistance, and then the collision will always be 
between competing cruelties; it is in the civilized state cruelty is dangerous, because the 
assaulted person nearly always lacks the force or the means to repel injury; but in the state of 
uncivilization, if cruelty's target is strong, he will repulse cruelty; and if the person attacked is 
weak, why, the case here is merely that of assault upon one of those persons whom Nature's 
law prescribes to yield to the strong— 'tis all one, and why seek trouble where there is none? 

We may dispense with an explanation of cruelty in man's lubricious pleasure; you already 
have a faint idea, Eugenie, of the several excesses they tend to lead to, and your ardent 
imagination must easily enable you to understand that for a firm and stoical spirit, they 
should be restricted by no limits. Nero, Tiberius, Heliogabolus slaughtered their children to 
cause an erection; Marechal de Retz, Charolais, Conde also committed murders of debauch; 
the first declared upon being questioned that he knew no delight more powerful than the one 
derived from the torture inflicted by his chaplain and himself upon infants of either sex. 
Seven or eight hundred sacrificed children were found in one of his Breton chateaux. All quite 
conceivable, I've just proven it to you. Our constitution, our scheme, our organs, the flow of 
liquids, the animal spirits' energy, such are the physical causes which in the same hour make 
for the Tituses and the Neros, the Messalinas or the Chantals; we can no longer take pride in 
the virtue that repents of vice, no more condemn Nature for having caused us to be born good 
than for having created us criminal: she acts in keeping with her designs, her views, her 
needs: let us submit to them. And so I will only examine, in what follows, female cruelty, 
which is always more active than male, by reason of the excessive sensibility of women's 

In general, we distinguish two sorts of cruelty: that resulting from stupidity, which, never 

reasoned, never analyzed, assimilates the unthinking individual into a ferocious beast: this 
cruelty affords no pleasure, for he inclined to it is incapable of discrimination; such a being's 
brutalities are rarely dangerous: it is always easy to find protection against them; the other 
species of cruelty, fruit of extreme organic sensibility, is known only to them who are 
extremely delicate in their person, and the extremes to which it drives them are those 
determined by intelligence and niceness of feeling; this delicacy, so finely wrought, so 
sensitive to impressions, responds above all, best, and immediately to cruelty; it awakens in 
cruelty, cruelty liberates it. How few are able to grasp these distinctions! . . . and how few 
there are who sense them! They exist nonetheless. Now, it is this second kind of cruelty you 
will most often find in women. Study them well: you will see whether it is not their excessive 
sensitivity that leads them to cruelty; you will see whether it is not their extremely active 
imagination, the acuity of their intelligence that renders them criminal, ferocious; oh, they 
are charming creatures, every one of them; and not one of the lot cannot turn a wise man into 
a giddy fool if she tries; unhappily, the rigidity, or rather the absurdity, of our customs acts as 
no encouragement to their cruelty; they are obliged to conceal themselves, to feign, to cover 
over their propensities with ostensible good and benevolent works which they detest to the 
depths of their soul; only behind the darkest curtain, by taking the greatest precautions, aided 
by a few dependable friends, are they able to surrender to their inclinations; and as there are 
many of this sort, so there are many who are miserable. Would you meet them? Announce a 
cruel spectacle, a burning, a battle, a combat of gladiators, you will see droves of them come 
running; but these occasions are not numerous enough to feed their fury: they contain 
themselves, and they suffer. 

Let's cast a rapid glance at women of this variety. Zingua, Queen of Angola, crudest of 
women, killed her lovers as soon as they had had their way with her; often she had warriors 
contend while she looked on and was the victor's prize; to flatter her ferocious spirit, she had 
every pregnant woman under the age of thirty ground in a mortar. 6 Zoe, a Chinese emperor's 
wife, knew no pleasure equal to what she felt upon witnessing the execution of criminals; 
wanting these, she had slaves put to death, and the while would fuck with her husband, and 
proportioned her discharges to the anguishes she made these wretches endure. 'Twas she 
who, searching to improve the tortures she imposed upon her victims, invented the famous 
hollow column of brass one heats after having sealed the patient within. Theodora, 
Justinian's wife, amused herself seeing eunuchs made; and Messalina frigged herself while 
men were masturbated to death before her. The women of Florida cause their husband's 
member to swell and they deposit little insects upon the glans, which produces very horrible 
agonies; they league together to perform the operation, several of them attacking one man in 
order to be more sure of the thing. When the Spaniards came, they themselves held their 
husbands while those European barbarians assassinated them. Mesdames Voisin and la 
Branvilliers poisoned for the simple pleasure of committing crime. In a word, history 
furnishes a thousand thousand details of women's cruelty, and it is because of the natural 
penchant they have, because of their instincts for cruelty, that I should like to have them 
become accustomed to active flagellation, a means by which cruel men appease their ferocity. 
Some few among them have the habit already, I know, but it is not yet in use amongst 
women, at least to the point I should desire. By means of this outlet given women's barbarity, 
society would have much to gain; for, unable to be evil in one way, they are in some other, 
and, thus broadcasting their poison everywhere about, they cause their husbands and their 
families to despair. The refusal to perform a good action, when the occasion presents itself, 
and that to relieve misfortune, surely gives considerable impetus, if you wish, to that ferocity 

into which certain women naturally are led, but all this is pale, weak stuff, and often falls far 
short of the need they have to do yet worse. There would be without doubt other devices 
whereby woman, at once sensitive and ferocious, might calm her intemperate emotions, but, 

Eugenie, they are dangerous means, and I should never dare recommend them to you 

But, my stars! What is the matter with you, dear angel? Madame, look at the state your pupil 
is in! 

EUGENIE,/nggmg herself— Oh Christ! you drive me wild! See what your frigging 
speeches do! ... 

DOLMANCE— To the rescue, Madame, help me if you will! Are we going to allow this 
lovely child to discharge without our aid?. . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, what an injustice 'twould be! (Taking Eugenie in her 
arms.) Adorable creature, never have I beheld a sensibility like yours, never so delightful a 
mind! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Take care of the fore-end, Madame, I am going to glide over this pretty little 
asshole with my tongue, and give her a few light slaps on these cheeks; she must be made to 
discharge at least seven or eight times in this manner. 

EUGENIE, wild-eyed, beside herself— Ah, by fuck! it won't be difficult! 

DOLMANCE— In your present posture, ladies, you might be able to suck my prick, one 
after the other; thus excited, I could with much more energy advance to our charming pupil's 

EUGENIE— My dear, I dispute with you the honor of sucking this noble prick. (She seizes 

DOLMANCE— Oh, what delights! what voluptuous warmth! Eugenie, will you behave well 
at this critical instant? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— She'll swallow, oh, I promise you, she'll swallow it down; yet 
... on the other hand, if she were through childishness ... for I do not know what reason . . . 
were she to neglect the duties lubricity imposes upon her . . . 

DOLMANCE, greatly aroused— I'd not forgive her, Madame, there would be no pardon for 
her! ... An exemplary punishment ... I swear to you she'd be whipped . . . whipped till her 

blood flowed Ah, damn the both of you, I discharge . . . my fuck's coming! . . . Swallow . . . 

swallow, Eugenie, let there not be one drop lost! and you, Madame, look to my ass; it's ready 

for you Do you see how it yawns? do you not see how it calls your fingers? By God's fuck! 

my ecstasy is complete . . . drive them in further, to the wrist! Ah, back on our feet, I can no 
more . . . this delicious girl has sucked me like an angel 

EUGENIE— My dear, my adorable instructor, not a drop was lost. Kiss me, my love, your 
fuck is now in the depths of my bowels. 

DOLMANCE— She is delicious . . . and how the wench discharged! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— She is inundated-but what's that I hear? Someone knocks? 
who can have come to trouble us? My brother . . . imprudent creature! 

EUGENIE— But, my dear, this is treason! 

DOLMANCE— Unparalleled, is it not? Fear not, Eugenie, we labor for naught but to 
procure you pleasures. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— And we'll very soon convince her of it! Come in, dear 
brother, and have a laugh at this little girl's shyness; she's hiding herself so as not to be seen 
by you. 



LE CHEVALIER— Lovely Eugenie, I beg you to be easy; my discretion is entire; there is my 
sister and there my friend, both of whom can be held answerable for me. 

DOLMANCE— I see but one way to terminate this ridiculous ceremony: look here, 
Chevalier, we are educating this pretty girl, we are teaching her all a little girl of her age 
should know and, the better to instruct her, we join some practice to theory. She must have a 
tableau dressed for her: it must feature a prick discharging, that's where presently we are; 
would you like to serve as model? 

LE CHEVALIER— Surely, the proposal is too flattering to refuse, and Mademoiselle has the 
charms that will very quickly guarantee the desired lesson's effects. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Then let's go on; to work! 

EUGENIE— Oh, indeed, 'tis too much; you abuse my inexperience to such a degree . . . but 
for whom is Monsieur going to take me? 

LE CHEVALIER— For a charming girl, Eugenie . . . for the most adorable creature I have 
ever laid eyes on. (He kisses her; his hands rove over her charms.) Oh God! what fresh, what 
sweet attractions! . . . enchanting! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Less prattle, Chevalier, let's act instead; I'll direct the scene, 'tis my right; 
the object here is to exhibit to Eugenie the mechanics of an ejaculation; but, since it should 
be difficult for her to observe such a phenomenon in cold blood, the four of us are going to 
group ourselves close together. You, Madame, will frig your friend, I'll be responsible for the 
Chevalier. When 'tis a question of a man's pollution, he would infinitely prefer to entrust the 
business to another man, not to a woman. As a man knows what suits himself, so he knows 
how to manage for another Well, off we go. Positions! (They arrange themselves.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Are we not too close? 

DOLMANCE, who has already got his hands upon the Chevalier— Impossible to be too 
close, Madame; we must have your friend's face and breast inundated by the proofs of your 
brother's virility; let him aim at her nose, as the saying goes. Master of the pump, I'll direct 
the stream in such wise she'll be covered quite absolutely. Meanwhile, frig her in every 
lubricious part of her body; Eugenie, give all of your imagination up to dwelling upon 
libertinage's ultimate extravagances; think that you are about to see its most splendid 
mysteries operated before your very eyes; cast away every restraint, spurn every one: never 
was modesty a virtue. Had Nature desired some part of our body to be hidden, she would 
have seen to the matter herself; but she created us naked; hence, she wishes that we go 
naked, and all contrary practice thoroughly outrages her laws. Children, who do not yet have 
any notion of pleasure and consequently of the necessity to render it more keen by modesty, 
exhibit all of themselves. One also sometimes meets with a yet stranger curiosity: there are 

countries where, although modesty of manners is not to be encountered, modesty of dress is 
in usage. In Tahiti, girls are clothed, and when one demands it, they strip 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— What I love about Dolmance is that he wastes not a 
moment; all the while he discourses, observe how he acts, look how approvingly he inspects 

my brother's superb ass, how voluptuously he frigs the young man's handsome prick 

Come, Eugenie, let's not tarry. There's the pump's nozzle in the air; it won't be long before 
we're flooded. 

EUGENIE— Oh, dearest friend, what a monstrous member! ... I can scarcely get my hand 
around it! . . . Dear God, are they all as big as this? 

DOLMANCE— Eugenie, you know that mine is much inferior in size; such engines are 
redoubtable for a youngster; you are fully aware one such as this could not without danger 
perforate you. 

EUGENIE, already being frigged by Madame de Saint-Ange— I'd brave anything to enjoy 


DOLMANCE— And you would be right: a girl ought never be terrified by such a thing; 
Nature lends a helping hand, and the torrents of pleasure wherewith she overwhelms you 
soon compensate the slight inconveniences that precede them. I have seen girls younger than 
you sustain still more massy pricks: with courage and patience life's greatest obstacles are 
surmounted. 'Tis madness to think one must have a child deflowered by only very small 
pricks. I hold the contrary view, that a virgin should be delivered unto none but the vastest 
engines to be had, in order that, the hymeneal ligaments sooner burst, pleasure's sensations 
can more promptly occur in her. To be sure, once launched on this diet, she will have much to 
do to quit it for another less piquant, more meager; but if she is wealthy, lovely, and youthful, 
she'll find as many of this size as she can wish. Let her keep her wits about her: should 
something mediocre be offered her, and should she nevertheless have the desire to make use 
of it, let her put it in her ass. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Indeed, and to be still happier, let her employ the greater 
and the lesser at once; let the voluptuous jars wherewith she will agitate him who encunts 
her serve to precipitate the ecstasy of the other who buggers, and, drowned in the fuck of the 
two, let her loose her own as she dies of pleasure. 

DOLMANCE— (If should be pointed out that the pollutions continue throughout all of the 
dialogue.) It seems to me two or three more pricks should figure in the picture you describe, 
Madame; this woman of yours ought to have, don't you think, a prick in her mouth and 
another in each hand? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— She might have some clapped under her armpits and a few 
in her hair, if it were possible she ought to have thirty ranged round her; under such 
circumstances, one must have, touch, devour nothing but pricks, be inundated by them all, at 
the same instant one discharges oneself. Ah, Dolmance! libertine that you are, I defy you to 

equal me in these delicious combats of luxury On this head, I've done all that it is 

possible to do. 

EUGENIE, continuously frigged by her friend, as is the Chevalier by Dolmance—Oh, my 
sweet! ... I grow dizzy! . . . Why, I too could procure myself such pleasures! ... I could give 
myself ... to a perfect army of men! . . . Ah, what delight! . . . How you frig me, dearest one . . . 
you are the very goddess of pleasure . . . and how this wondrous prick does swell . . . how its 
majestic head enlarges and grows red! . . . 

DOLMANCE— He's not far from the denouement. 

LE CHEVALIER— Eugenie . . . sister . . . approach Oh, what divine breasts! . . . what 

soft, plump thighs! Discharge! discharge both, my fuck will join yours! ... It flows! leaps! 
Christ! (During the crisis, Dolmance has carefully directed his friend's outpourings of sperm 
upon the two women and principally upon Eugenie, who finds herself drenched.) 

EUGENIE— Magnificent spectacle! how noble, how majestic it is . . . I'm completely 
covered! ... it sprang into my very eyes! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Wait, dear heart, let me gather up these priceless pearls; I'll 
rub some upon your clitoris more speedily to provoke your own discharge. 

EUGENIE— Ah! yes, my darling, yes! delicious idea ... go ahead, and I'll come in your 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Divine child, kiss me a thousand times over ... let me suck 
your tongue ... let me breathe your voluptuous respiration all fired by pleasure's heat! Ah, 
fuck! I discharge myself. . . . Brother, finish me, I beg you to finish me! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Yes, Chevalier . . . frig your sister. 

LE CHEVALIER— I'd prefer to fuck her . . . I'm still in a state to. 

DOLMANCE— Very well, press it in and give me your ass; I'll fuck you throughout this 
voluptuous incest. Eugenie, armed with this India rubber dildo, will bugger me. Destined 
someday to have enacted all the roles of lechery, she has got to strive, in the lessons we're 
giving here, to fulfill them all equally well. 

EUGENIE, rigging up the dildo— Oh, willingly! You will never find me wanting when it is a 
question of libertinage; it is now my single god, the unique rule of my conduct, the single 
basis of all my actions. (She buggers Dolmance.) In like wise, my dear master? Is it well 
done? . . . 

DOLMANCE— Splendidly! . . . Truly, the little rascal buggers me mannishly! Fine! it seems 
to me we are all four perfectly attached one to the other; we have but to commence. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, I'm dying, Chevalier! ... I am incapable of becoming 
accustomed to the throbbing of your lovely prick! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Ah, but this damned, this charming ass affords me pleasure! Oh fuck! fuck! 
all of us, let's discharge together! Christ, but I perish! I expire! Ah, in my life never have I 
come more voluptuously! Hast lost thy sperm, Chevalier? 

LE CHEVALIER— Look you at this cunt: smeared, muddied up, is it not? 
DOLMANCE— Oh, my friend, wouldst I had as much in my ass! 
MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Rest, stop, I am dead. 

DOLMANCE, kissing Eugenie— This matchless girl has fucked me like a god. 
EUGENIE— In truth, I found it rather pleasurable. 

DOLMANCE— All excesses procure it, provided one is libertine; and a woman is best 
advised to multiply those excesses even to beyond the possible. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I have deposited five hundred louis with a notary, and the 
purse will belong to any individual, whomsoever he be, who can teach me a passion I am 
ignorant of now, and who can plunge me into an ecstasy I have not yet enjoyed. 

DOLMANCE— (At this point the interlocutors, set to rights, have ceased to occupy 
themselves with all but conversation.) The idea is strange, Madame, and I'd accept to try, but 
I am in doubt whether this uncommon desire after which you chase, resembles the delicate 
pleasures you have just tasted. 


DOLMANCE— 'Tis that, in honor, I know nothing so boring as enjoyment of the cunt and 
when once, Madame, one has, like yourself, tasted what the ass has to offer, I cannot 
conceive how one may forsake that pleasure for others. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— They are old habits. When one thinks as I do, one wishes 
everywhere to be fucked and whatever the part an engine perforates, one is made happy upon 
feeling it there. However, I am wholly of your opinion and herewith attest to all voluptuous 
women that the pleasure they will experience of ass-fucking will always by much surpass the 
one they experience in having a man by the cunt. On this count let them refer to that woman 
who in all Europe has accomplished most in the one manner and in the other: I certify there 
is not the least comparison to be made, and that very reluctantly will they return to the fore 
after having put their behinds to the proof. 

LE CHEVALIER— My thoughts are not entirely identical. I am prepared for anything that is 
expected of me, but, by taste, in women I really love only the altar Nature indicates for the 
rendering of an homage. 

DOLMANCE— Why, to be sure, and it's the ass! My dear Chevalier, never did Nature, if you 
scrupulously examine her ordinations, never did Nature indicate another altar for our 
offerings than the asshole, but this latter she expressly commands. Ah, by God! were not her 
intention that we fuck assholes, would she have so exactly proportioned this orifice to fit our 
member? is not this aperture circular, like this instrument? Why, then! What person, no 
matter how great an enemy of common sense, can imagine that an oval hole could have been 
created for our cylindrical pricks! Ponder this deformity and you will at once apprehend 

Nature's intentions; we very plainly see that too frequent sacrifices made in this part, by 
increasing a propagation of which only her forbearance makes us capable, would displease 
her infallibly. But let us go on with our education. Eugenie has just, entirely at her leisure, 
contemplated the sublime mystery of a discharge; presently, I would like to have her learn 
how to direct its flow. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Considering your exhaustion, 'tis to expose her to a great 
deal of trouble. 

DOLMANCE— To be sure; and that is why I should desire that we have, from your house or 
your fields, some robust young lad who could serve as a mannequin, and upon whom we 
could give our lessons. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I've precisely what you need. 

DOLMANCE— It might not be, by chance, a young gardener, with a delicious aspect, of 
about eighteen years or twenty, whom I saw just a short while ago, working in your kitchen 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Augustin? Exactly, yes, Augustin, whose member measures 
fourteen inches in length and has a circumference of eight and an half! 

DOLMANCE— Great heaven! what a monster! . . . and that discharges? . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Like a waterfall! . . . I'll go fetch him. 



MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, presenting Augustin— Behold the man I mentioned. Let's on 
with it, friends, let's to our frolics; what would life be without its little amusements? Come 
hither, simpleton! Oh, the ninny! . . . Would you believe it, I have been six months struggling 
to turn this great pig into something fit for civilized society, and I've got nowhere with him. 

AUGUSTIN— Aye, M'am, you speak sometimes like that, that I'm beginning not to get on 
so bad right now, and when there's a piece of ground lying fallow you always give it to me to 
till, I'm the one that gets it. 

DOLMANCE, laughing— Oh, precious! . . . charming! . . . The dear boy, he's as frank as he 

is fresh (Exhibiting Eugenie.) Augustin, look sharp, my lad, there's a bed of flowers lying 

fallow; would you like to try your spade on it? 

AUGUSTIN— Oh Jemmy, Sir! Such neat little oddments ain't made for such as me. 

DOLMANCE-To it, Mademoiselle. 

EUGENIE, blushing— Heavens! I am so ashamed! 

DOLMANCE— Rid yourself of that weak-hearted sentiment; all actions, and above all those 
of libertinage, being inspired in us by Nature, there is not one, of whatever kind, that 
warrants shame. Be smart there, Eugenie, act the whore with this young man; consider that 
every provocation sensed by a boy and originating from a girl is a natural offertory, and that 
your sex never serves Nature better than when it prostitutes itself to ours; that 'tis, in a word, 
to be fucked that you were born, and that she who refuses her obedience to this intention 
Nature has for her does not deserve to see the light longer. You yourself, lower the young 
man's trousers to below his handsome thighs, roll his shirt up under his vest, so that his fore- 
end . . . and his after, which, by the by, is damn fine, are at your disposal Now, let one of 

your hands catch up that lank length of flesh, pendant now, but which, I wager, will soon 
amaze you in its new form, and with your other hand explore his buttocks, and, thus, tickle 

his rectal gap Yes, in this manner . . . (To show Eugenie how 'tis to be done, he socratizes 

Augustin himself.) Uncap this rubicund head; never, while you pollute it, never allow it to be 

covered over; keep it naked . . . stretch the skin, yea, stretch it taut Now there; dost see 

what effect my lesson has had already? . . . And you, my boy, I beseech you, don't stand there 
holding your hands behind your back; isn't there something you might put them to? Let them 
stray about upon this superb breast, over these wondrous buttocks 

AUGUSTIN— Sir, couldn't I give this miss a smack or two, it would make me right happy. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Well, kiss her, imbecile, kiss her as much as you like; do you 
not kiss me when I'm in bed with you? 

AUGUSTIN— Oh, jeez! Pretty little mouth, all fresh and nice tasting! . . . Seems like I've got 
my nose in the roses in our garden. (Showing his rising prick.) Look, Sir, that's what it does, 

d'ye see it? 

EUGENIE— Good heaven! How it enlarges! 

DOLMANCE— Attempt now to put rather more regularity in your motions, let them be 
more energetic. . . . Here, yield me your place for an instant, and watch closely what I do. (He 
frigs Augustin.) Do you observe? These movements are more purposeful and at the same 
time softer. There, begin again and above all keep the head bare . . . Good! there it is in its full 
vigor; now let's ascertain whether it's bigger than the Chevalier's. 

EUGENIE— Be certain of it: you see very well I cannot get my hand around it. 

DOLMANCE, measuring— Yes, right you are: fourteen long, eight and a half around. I've 

never seen a larger. 'Tis what is called a superb prick. And you, Madame, you say you employ 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Regularly, every night I spend here in the country. 
DOLMANCE-But not, I hope, in the ass? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Rather more often there than in the cunt. 

DOLMANCE— Ah! my God! what libertinage! Upon my honor, I don't know whether I 
could manage it. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Don't pinch, Dolmance, and he'll penetrate your ass as 
neatly as he does mine. 

DOLMANCE— We shall see; I flatter myself in the belief our Augustin will do me the 
honor of casting a little fuck into my behind: I'll repay him in the same coin; but let's 

continue, we have lessons to give Look sharp, Eugenie, mind, the serpent is about to 

disgorge its venom: prepare yourself; fix your gaze upon the head of this sublime weapon; 
and when as the sign of its approaching spasm you see it inflate, take on a deeper, more 
purple hue, let your activities then become frenzied; let your fingers now tickling his anus dig 
as deep as possible, before the event occurs; give yourself entirely to the libertine who is 
amusing himself with you; seek out his mouth in order to suck it; let your charms fly, so to 

speak, to do your hands' bidding He discharges, Eugenie, 'tis the moment of your 


AUGUSTIN— Aie! aie! Miss, it's killing me! I can't do no more! More, go on and do me 
more, harder, Miss, please, Miss! Ah, God a'mighty! I can't see straight! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Redouble your efforts, Eugenie! Triple them! Caution to the winds, he's 
drunk and in his throes! . . . God, what abundance of sperm! . . . with what power it springs 
forth! . . . Behold the traces of the initial jet: it shot ten feet, nay, more! By God's fuck! the 
room's awash; Never have I seen a comparable discharge, and you tell me, Madame, this 
article fucked you last night? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Nine or ten times, I believe; we gave up counting long ago. 

LE CHEVALIER— Lovely Eugenie, you're covered with it. 

EUGENIE— Wouldst I were drowned in it. (To Dolmance:) Tell me, my dear master, are 
you content? 

DOLMANCE— Mightily, for a beginning; but there remain several episodes you have 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Wait; they can mean nothing to her lest they are the fruit of 
experience; for my part, I confess I am exceedingly pleased with my Eugenie; the happiest 
dispositions are apparent in her, and I believe that we ought now to have her enjoy another 
spectacle. Let's have her witness the effects of a prick in the ass. Dolmance, I am going to 
offer you mine; I shall be in my brother's arms; he will encunt me, I'll be buggered by you, 
and Eugenie will prepare your prick, will insert it in my ass, will supervise all the movements, 
will study them, all this in order to familiarize herself with this operation to which, afterward, 
she will submit; it will then be a question of this Hercules' fair prick. 

DOLMANCE— I am passing eager to see this pretty little behind rent by brave Augustin's 
violent blows; but I agree to what you propose, Madame, provided we add one detail: 
Augustin, whom I'll have stiff again with two strokes of my wrist, will bugger me while I 
sodomize you. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I heartily approve the arrangement; I too gain thereby; and 
my scholar will benefit from two excellent lessons instead of one. 

DOLMANCE, seizing Augustin— Come, my stalwart swain, I'll restore thee to life. . . . Eh, 

look how the brute responds! Kiss me, dear friend You are still all wetted over with fuck, 

and 'tis fuck I ask of thee. Ah, by God, I simply must pump his ass while frigging him! . . . 

LE CHEVALIER— Approach, sister; to comply with Dolmance's strictures and with yours, I 
am going to stretch out on this bed; you will lie in my arms, and expose your gorgeous 

buttocks to him, and very wide indeed you shall spread them Yes, just so: we're ready to 


DOLMANCE— No, not quite; wait for me; I must first of all enter your sister's ass, since 
Augustin whispers me to do it; next, I'll marry you: remember, let's not fall short of any of 
our principles and remember also that a student is observing us, and we owe her precise 
demonstrations. Eugenie, come frig me while I determine this low fellow's enormous engine; 
lend a hand with my own erection, pollute my prick, very lightly, roll it upon your buttocks. . . 
. (She does so.) 

EUGENIE-Is this as it ought to be? 

DOLMANCE— There is always too much of the timorous in your movements; far more 
tightly squeeze the prick you frig, Eugenie; if masturbation is agreeable at all it is because the 
member is more severely compressed then than in fucking, it is therefore necessary that the 
co-operating hand become, for the engine over which it works, an infinitely straiter passage 

than exists anywhere else in the body Better! Yes, that's better! Spread your behind yet a 

little more so that with each stroke the end of my prick can glide ahead to touch your asshole. 
. . . yes, very good, very good indeed! While waiting, Chevalier, frig your sister; we will be at 

your disposal in a minute Ah, excellent! there's my man stiffening! Now ready yourself, 

Madame; open that sublime ass to my impure ardor; Eugenie, guide the dart, it must be your 
hand that conducts it to the vent, your hand must make it penetrate; immediately it is in, get 
a grip on good Augustin here, and fill my entrails up with him; those are an apprentice's 
chores and thence there is much instruction to be had; that, my dear, is why I put you to this 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Are my buttocks where you wish them, Dolmance? Ah, my 
angel, if you but knew how much I desire you, how long I have been waiting to be buggered 
by a sodomite! 

DOLMANCE— Thy will shall be done, Madame; but suffer me to halt an instant at my 

idol's feet; I would praise it before entering into the depths of the sanctuary What a 

divine ass is this! ... let me kiss it! let me lick it, lick it a thousand times over and a thousand 
more! . . . Here, that's the prick you yearn for! . . . Dost feel it, bitch? Tell me, say, dost feel it 
penetrate? . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, drive it to darkness in my bowels! ... Oh sweet lechery, 
what is your empire! 

DOLMANCE— 'Tis an ass such as never in my days have I fucked; worthy of Ganymede 
himself! To it, Eugenie, be immediately attendant upon my buggering by Augustin. 

EUGENIE— I bring him to you; there. (To Augustin:) Wake, sweet angel, do you spy the 
hole you've to pierce? 

AUGUSTIN— Aye, I see it. Mother of God! there's a big one I say! I'll go in easier than into 
you, Miss. Kiss me a little so it will enter nice. 

EUGENIE, embracing him— Oh, as much as you like, you are so fresh! . . . But push, do 
you hear! The head's out of sight— 'twas quick, and I dare say the rest will follow close 

DOLMANCE— Thrust, thrust, my good fellow . . . tear me, if so it must be. . . . Dost see my 
ass? Is it not ready? Doth it not beckon? Well, drive ... ah, by Christ! what a bludgeon! never 
have I received one of such amplitude . . . Eugenie, how many inches remain outside? 

EUGENIE-Scarcely two. 

DOLMANCE— Then I have eleven in my ass! . . . What ecstasy! He cleaves me in twain, I 
can no more! Chevalier! Are you ready? 

LE CHEVALIER— Feel, and give me your opinion. 

DOLMANCE— Come hither, my children, let me wed thee ... let me do all I may to 

expedite this heavenly incest. (He introduces the Chevalier's prick into his sister's cunt.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Why, my dears, there I am fucked from either side! By 
Jesus! What a divine pleasure! No, there's none like it in all the world. Ah, fuck! how I pity 
the woman who has not tasted it! Rattle me, Dolmance, smite away ... let the violence of 
your movements impale me upon my brother's blade and you, Eugenie, do you contemplate 
me; come, regard me in vice; come, learn, from my example, to savor it, to be transported, to 

taste it with delectation Behold, my love, behold all that I simultaneously do: scandal, 

seduction, bad example, incest, adultery, sodomy! Oh, Satan! one and unique god of my soul, 
inspire thou in me something yet more, present further perversions to my smoking heart, 
and then shalt thou see how I shall plunge myself into them all! 

DOLMANCE— Ah voluptuous creature, how you do stir up my fuck, how your sentiments 
and the uncommon temperature of your ass do excite it to discharge! 'Twill all have me 
coming in an instant. . . . Eugenie, fire my fucker's courage, belabor his flanks, pry apart his 
buttocks; you are now somewhat skilled in the art of reviving the desires in him who 

vacillates . . . your approach alone gives energy to the prick that fucks me I feel it, the 

strokes are more powerful ... oh, thou bitch, I must yield to you what I should never have 
wanted but to owe to my own ass-end . . . wait for me! wait, dost hear? Oh, my friends, let us 
not discharge but in unison: 'tis life's single pleasure! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Fuck! fuck! come when you wish ... for I can withstand it 
no longer! Oh double name of Godbefucked! Sacred bugger-God! I come! . . . Inundate me, 
my friends, soak, drench, drown your whore! spray floods of your scum-fuck to the very seat 
of this blazing soul! it exists for naught but to be slaked, quenched by your tides! Aie! aie! aie! 
. . . fuck! . . . fuck! . . . what incredible excess of voluptuousness! ... I am slain! . . . Eugenie, 
let me kiss thee, let me eat thee! let me consume, batten upon thy fuck as I loose my own! . . . 
(Augustin, Dolmance and the Chevalier act in chorus; the fear of appearing monotonous 
prevents us from recording expressions which, upon such occasions, are all very apt to 
resemble one another.) 

DOLMANCE— And there is one of the fairest fucks I have ever had. (Showing Augustin to 
the others.) This bugger glutted me with sperm! but, Madame, I consider I passed as much on 
to you. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Ah, speak not to me of it; I am sunk in it. 

EUGENIE— I cannot say as much, not I! no! (Casting herself playfully into her friend's 
arms.) You say you have committed abundant sins, my dearest, but as for me, blessed God! 
not a one. Oh, if I have got to eat my soup cold this way, I'll have indigestion. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, bursting into laughter-How droll the creature is! 

DOLMANCE— But how charming! Come here, little one, I'd whip thee a bit. (He strikes her 
ass.) Kiss me, your turn is soon to come. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— From now on we must occupy ourselves exclusively with 
her; consider her, brother, she's the prey; examine that charming maidenhead; 'twill soon 

belong to thee. 

EUGENIE— Oh, no! not by the fore-end! 'twould hurt me overmuch; from behind as much 
as you please, as Dolmance dealt with me a short while ago. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Naive and delicious girl! She demands of you precisely what 
one has so much difficulty obtaining from others. 

EUGENIE— Oh, 'tis not without a little remorse; for you have not entirely reassured me 
upon the criminal enormity I have always heard ascribed to this, especially when it is done 
between man and man, as has just occurred with Dolmance and Augustin; tell me, Monsieur, 
tell me how your philosophy explains this species of misdemeanor. 'Tis frightful, is it not? 

DOLMANCE— Start from one fundamental point, Eugenie: in libertinage, nothing is 
frightful, because everything libertinage suggests is also a natural inspiration; the most 
extraordinary, the most bizarre acts, those which most arrantly seem to conflict with every 
law, every human institution (as for Heaven, I have nothing to say), well, Eugenie, even those 
are not frightful, and there is not one amongst them all that cannot be demonstrated within 
the boundaries of Nature; it is certain that the one you allude to, lovely Eugenie, is the very 
same relative to which one finds such a strange fable in the tasteless fictions of the Holy 
Writ, that tedious compilation of an untutored Jew during a Babylonian captivity; but the 
anecdote is false, wants all likelihood, all verisimilitude, when it is affirmed that in 
retribution for these depravities, those cities, those towns rather, perished by fire; having 
their site upon the craters of ancient volcanoes, Sodom, Gomorrah too, perished like the 
Italian cities Vesuvius' lavas submerged; and that's all there is to the miracle, yet, all the 
same, 'twas from this most simple event they departed in order barbarously to invent the 
torture of fire to be used against those unfortunate humans who, in one area of Europe, 
delivered themselves over to this natural fancy. 

EUGENIE— Oh, 'tis natural? 

DOLMANCE— Yes, natural, so I affirm it to be; Nature has not got two voices, you know, 
one of them condemning all day what the other commands, and it is very certain that it is 
nowhere but from her organ that those men who are infatuated with this mania receive the 
impressions that drive them to it. They who wish to denigrate the taste or proscribe its 
practice declare it is harmful to population; how dull-witted they are, these imbeciles who 
think of nothing but the multiplication of their kind, and who detect nothing but the crime in 
anything that conduces to a different end. Is it really so firmly established that Nature has so 
great a need for this overcrowding as they would like to have us believe? is it very certain that 
one is guilty of an outrage whenever one abstains from this stupid propagation? To convince 
ourselves, let us for an instant scrutinize both her operations and her laws. Were it that 
Nature did naught but create, and never destroy, I might be able to believe, with those tedious 
sophists, that the sublimest of all actions would be incessantly to labor at production, and 
following that, I should grant, with them, that the refusal to reproduce would be, would 
perforce have to be, a crime; however, does not the most fleeting glance at natural operations 
reveal that destructions are just as necessary to her plan as are creations? that the one and 
the other of these functions are interconnected and enmeshed so intimately that for either to 
operate without the other would be impossible? that nothing would be born, nothing would 

be regenerated without destructions? Destruction, hence, like creation, is one of Nature's 

This principle acknowledged, how may I offend Nature by refusing to create? the which, 
supposing there to be some evil in it, would appear infinitely less evil, no question about it, 
than the act of destruction, which latter is numbered among her laws, as I have but a moment 
ago proven. If on the one hand I admit the penchant Nature has given me to fabricate these 
losses and ruins, I must examine, on the other hand, to see whether they are not necessary to 
her and whether I do not conform with her will when I destroy; thus considered, where then, 
I ask you, is the crime? But, the fools and the populators continue to object— and they are 
naught but one— this procreative sperm cannot have been placed in your loins for any 
purpose other than reproduction: to misuse it is an offense. I have just proven the contrary, 
since this misuse would not even be equivalent to destruction, and since destruction, far 
more serious than misuse, would not itself be criminal. Secondly, it is false that Nature 
intends this spermatic liquid to be employed only and entirely for reproduction; were this 
true, she would not permit its spillage under any circumstance save those appropriate to that 
end. But experience shows that the contrary may happen, since we lose it both when and 
where we wish. Secondly, she would forbid the occurrence of those losses save in coitus, 
losses which, however, do take place, both when we dream and when we summon 
remembrances; were Nature miserly about this so precious sap, 'twould never but be into the 
vessel of reproduction she would tolerate its flow; assuredly, she would not wish this 
voluptuousness, wherewith at such moments she crowns us, to be felt by us when we divert 
our tribute; for it would not be reasonable to suppose she could consent to give us pleasures 
at the very moment we heaped insults upon her. Let us go further; were women not born 
save to produce— which most surely would be the case were this production so dear to Nature 
— , would it happen that, throughout the whole length of a woman's life, there are no more 
than seven years, all the arithmetic performed, during which she is in a state capable of 
conceiving and giving birth? What! Nature avidly seeks propagation, does she; and everything 
which does not tend to this end offends her, does it! and out of a hundred years of life the sex 
destined to produce cannot do so during more than seven years! Nature wishes for 
propagation only, and the semen she accords man to serve in these reproducings is lost, 
wasted, misused wherever and as often as it pleases man! He takes the same pleasures in this 
loss as in useful employment of his seed, and never the least inconvenience! . . . 

Let us cease, good friends, let us cease to believe in such absurdities: they cause good 
sense to shudder. Ah! far from outraging Nature, on the contrary— and let us be well 
persuaded of it—, the sodomite and Lesbian serve her by stubbornly abstaining from a 
conjunction whose resultant progeniture can be nothing but irksome to her. Let us make no 
mistake about it, this propagation was never one of her laws, nothing she ever demanded of 
us, but at the very most something she tolerated; I have told you so. Why! what difference 
would it make to her were the race of men entirely to be extinguished upon earth, 
annihilated! she laughs at our pride when we persuade ourselves all would be over and done 
with were this misfortune to occur! Why, she would simply fail to notice it. Do you fancy 
races have not already become extinct? Buffon counts several of them perished, and Nature, 
struck dumb by a so precious loss, doesn't so much as murmur! The entire species might be 
wiped out and the air would not be the less pure for it, nor the Star less brilliant, nor the 
universe's march less exact. What idiocy it is to think that our kind is so useful to the world 
that he who might not labor to propagate it or he who might disturb this propagation would 
necessarily become a criminal! Let's bring this blindness to a stop and may the example of 

more reasonable peoples serve to persuade us of our errors. There is not one corner of the 
earth where the alleged crime of sodomy has not had shrines and votaries. The Greeks, who 
made of it, so to speak, a virtue, raised a statue unto Venus Callipygea; Rome sent to Athens 
for law, and returned with this divine taste. 

And under the emperors, behold the progress it made! Sheltered by the Roman eagle, it 
spread from one end of the earth to the other; with the Empire's collapse, it took refuge near 
the diadem, it followed the arts in Italy, it is handed down to those of us who govern 
ourselves aright. We discover a hemisphere, we find sodomy in it. Cook casts anchor in a new 
world: sodomy reigns there. Had our balloons reached the moon, it would have been 
discovered there as well. Delicious preference, child of Nature and of pleasure, thou must be 
everywhere men are to be found, and wherever thou shalt be known, there shall they erect 
altars to thee! O my friends, can there be an extravagance to equal that of imagining that a 
man must be a monster deserving to lose his life because he has preferred enjoyment of the 
asshole to that of the cunt, because a young man with whom he finds two pleasures, those of 
being at once lover and mistress, has appeared to him preferable to a young girl, who 
promises him but half as much! He shall be a villain, a monster, for having wished to play the 
role of a sex not his own! Indeed! Why then has Nature created him susceptible of this 

Let us inspect his conformation; you will observe radical differences between it and that of 
other men who have not been blessed with this predilection for the behind; his buttocks will 
be fairer, plumper; never a hair will shade the altar of pleasure, whose interior, lined with a 
more delicate, more sensual, more sensitive membrane, will be found positively of the same 
variety as the interior of a woman's vagina; this man's character, once again unlike that of 
others, will be softer, more pliant, subtler; in him you will find almost all the vices and all the 
virtues native to women; you will recognize even their weaknesses there; all will have 
feminine manias and sometimes feminine habits and traits. Would it then be possible that 
Nature, having thuswise assimilated them into women, could be irritated by what they have 
of women's tastes? Is it not evident that this is a category of men different from the other, a 
class Nature has created in order to diminish or minimize propagation, whose overgreat 
extent would infallibly be prejudicial to her? . . . Ah, dear Eugenie, did you but know how 
delicate is one's enjoyment when a heavy prick fills the behind, when, driven to the balls, it 
flutters there, palpitating; and then, withdrawn to the foreskin, it hesitates, and returns, 
plunges in again, up to the hair! No, no, in the wide world there is no pleasure to rival this 
one: 'tis the delight of philosophers, that of heroes, it would be that of the gods were not the 
parts used in his heavenly conjugation the only gods we on earth should reverence! 7 

EUGENIE, very much moved— Oh, my friends, let me be buggered! . . . Here, my buttocks 

stand ready I present them to you! . . . Fuck me, for I discharge! . . . (Upon pronouncing 

these words, she falls into the arms of Madame de Saint-Ange, who clasps her, embraces her, 
and offers the young lady's elevated flanks to Dolmance.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Divine teacher, will you resist the proposal? Will you not be 
tempted by this sublime ass? See how it doth yawn, how it winks at thee! 

DOLMANCE— I ask your forgiveness, beautiful Eugenie: it shall not be I, if indeed you 
wish it, who shall undertake to extinguish the fires I have lit. Dear child, in my eyes you 
possess the large fault of being a woman. I was so considerate as to forget much in order to 

harvest your virginity; deign to think well of me for going no further: the Chevalier is going to 
take the task in hand. His sister, equipped with this artificial prick, will bestow the most 
redoubtable buffets upon her brother's ass, all the while presenting her noble behind to 
Augustin, who shall bugger her and whom I'll fuck meantime; for, I make no attempt to 
conceal it, this fine lad's ass has been signaling to me for an hour, and I wish absolutely to 
repay him for what he has done to me. 

EUGENIE— I accept the revision; but, in truth, Dolmance, the frankness of your avowal 
little offsets its impoliteness. 

DOLMANCE— A thousand pardons, Mademoiselle; but we other buggers are very nice on 
the question of candor and the exactitude of our principles. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— However, a reputation for candor is not the one we 
commonly grant those whom, like yourself, are accustomed only to taking people from 

DOLMANCE— We do have something of the treacherous, yes; a touch of the false, you may 
believe it. But after all, Madame, I have demonstrated to you that this character is 
indispensable to man in society. Condemned to live amidst people who have the greatest 
interest in hiding themselves from our gaze, in disguising the vices they have in order to 
exhibit nothing but virtues they never respect, there should be the greatest danger in the 
thing were we to show them frankness only; for then, 'tis evident, we would give them all the 
advantages over us they on their part refuse us, and the dupery would be manifest. The needs 
for dissimulation and hypocrisy are bequeathed us by society; let us yield to the fact. Allow 
me for an instant to offer my own example to you, Madame: there is surely no being more 
corrupt anywhere in the world; well, my contemporaries are deceived in me; ask them what 
they think of Dolmance, and they all will tell you I am an honest man, whereas there is not a 
single crime whereof I have not gleaned the most exquisite delights. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, you do not convince me that you have committed 

DOLMANCE— Atrocities . . . indeed, Madame, I have wrought horrors. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Fie, you are like the man who said to his confessor: 
"Needless to go into details, Sir; murder and theft excepted, you can be sure I've done 

DOLMANCE— Yes, Madame, I should say the same thing, omitting those exceptions. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- What! libertine, you have permitted yourself . . . 

DOLMANCE— Everything, Madame, everything; with a temperament and principles like 
mine, does one deny oneself anything? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Oh, let's fuck! fuck! ... I can bear such language no longer; 
we'll return to it. But save your confessions for later, Dolmance; to hear them best your 

auditors should be clear-headed. And when you have an erection, all the sincerity deserts 
what you say, you fall to uttering horrors and from you we get, in the guise of truths, the 
libertine glitterings of an inflamed imagination. (They take their places.) 

DOLMANCE— One moment, Chevalier, one moment; I am the one who shall introduce it; 
but, by way of preliminary, and I ask the lovely Eugenie's pardon for it, she must allow me to 
flog her in order she be put in the proper humor. (He beats her.) 

EUGENIE— I assure you, this ceremony has no purpose. . . . Admit, Dolmance, that it 
satisfies your lewdness; but in doing it don't take on airs, I beg of you, and suppose you are 
doing anything in my behalf. 

DOLMANCE, whipping merrily away— Ah, you'll have news for me in a moment! . . . You 

have yet no acquaintance with this preliminary's influences Come, come, little bitch, 

you'll be lashed! 

EUGENIE— My God, how he does wax hot! And my buttocks too, they are all afire! . . . But, 
indeed, you're hurting me! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE-I'll avenge you, dear heart; I'll retaliate in kind. (She takes 
up a whip and flogs Dolmance.) 

DOLMANCE— With all my heart; I ask but one favor of Eugenie: that she consent to be 
flogged as vigorously as I myself desire to be; you notice how well within natural law I am; 
but wait, let's arrange it: let Eugenie mount your flanks, Madame, she will clutch your neck, 
like those children whose mothers carry them on their backs; that way, I'll have two asses 
under my hand; I'll drub them together; the Chevalier and Augustin, both will work upon me, 
striking my buttocks Yes, 'tis thus . . . Well, there we are! . . . what ecstasy! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Do not spare this little rascal, I beseech you, and as I ask no 
quarter, I want you to grant it to no one. 

EUGENIE— Aie! aie! aie! I believe my blood is flowing! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- 'Twill embellish our buttocks by lending color to them. . . . 
Courage, my angel, courage; bear in mind that it is always by way of pain one arrives at 

EUGENIE— I can no more! 

DOLMANCE, halts a minute to contemplate his work; then, starting in again— Another 
fifty, Eugenie; yes, precisely, fifty more on either cheek will do it. O bitches! how great shall 
now be your pleasure in fucking! (The posture is dissolved.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, examining Eugenie's buttocks-Oh, the poor little thing, her 
behind is all bloodied over! Beast, how much pleasure you take thus in kissing cruelty's 

DOLMANCE, polluting himself— Yes, I mask nothing, and my pleasures would be more 

ardent were the wounds more cruel. 
EUGENIE— But you are a monster! 
DOLMANCE— Indeed I am. 

LE CHEVALIER— There's good faith in him at least. 

DOLMANCE-Off with you, Chevalier. Sodomize her. 

LE CHEVALIER— Hold her body and in three shakes 'twill be done. 

EUGENIE— Oh heavens! Yours is thicker than Dolmance's . . . Chevalier, you are tearing 
me apart! ... go softly, I beg of you! . . . 

LE CHEVALIER— Impossible, my angel, I must reach my objective. . . . Consider: I'm 
performing before my master's eyes; both his prestige and mine are at stake. 

DOLMANCE— 'Tis there! I prodigiously love to see a prick's pubic hair rub the border of an 

anus Come now, Madame, embugger your brother. Here we have Augustin's prick, in an 

admirable way to be introduced into you, and I promise you I'll spare your fucker nothing 

Excellent! it seems to me we've got our rosary well strung together; not another thought now 
but of discharging. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Cast an eye on this little tramp! How she quivers and 

EUGENIE— Is it my fault? I am dying from pleasure! That whipping . . . this immense prick 
. . . the amiable Chevalier who frigs me the while! My darling, my darling, I can no more! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Jesus! nor can I! I discharge! . . . 

DOLMANCE— A little unity, my friends; grant me another two more minutes to overtake 
you and we shall all of us come together. 

LE CHEVALIER— There's no time left; my fuck runs into lovely Eugenie's ass ... I am 
dying! Ah sacred name of the fucking Almighty! what pleasure! . . . 

DOLMANCE— I follow you, friends ... I follow hard after you ... I too am blinded by fuck. 

AUGUSTIN— Me too! . . . and me! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- What a scene! . . . This bugger has filled up my ass! . . . 
LE CHEVALIER— To the bidet, ladies, to the bidet! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— No, indeed, no, I like that, I do; I like the feeling of fuck in 
my ass, and keep it in me as long as I can. 

EUGENIE— No more, enough My friends, tell me now if a woman must always accept 

the proposal, when 'tis made to her, thus to be fucked? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Always, dear heart, unfailingly. More, as this mode of 
fucking is delightful, she ought to require it of those of whom she makes use; but if she is 
dependent upon the person with whom she amuses herself, if she hopes to obtain favors 
from him, gifts or thanks, let her restrain her eagerness and not surrender her ass for 
nothing; cede it after being urged, besought, wheedled; there is not a man of all those who 
possess the taste who would not ruin himself for a woman clever enough to refuse him 
nothing save with the design of inflaming him further; she will extract from him all she 
wants if she well has the art of yielding only when pressed. 

DOLMANCE— Well, little angel, are you converted? have you given over believing sodomy 
a crime? 

EUGENIE— And were it one, what care I? Have you not demonstrated the nonexistence of 
crime? There are now very few actions which appear criminal in my view. 

DOLMANCE— There is crime in nothing, dear girl, regardless of what it be: the most 
monstrous of deeds has, does it not, an auspicious aspect? 

EUGENIE- Who's to gainsay it? 

DOLMANCE— Well, as of this moment, it loses every aspect of crime; for, in order that 
what serves one by harming another be a crime, one should first have to demonstrate that the 
injured person is more important, more precious to Nature than the person who performs the 
injury and serves her; now, all individuals being of uniform importance in her eyes, 'tis 
impossible that she have a predilection for some one among them; hence, the deed that 
serves one person by causing suffering to another is of perfect indifference to Nature. 

EUGENIE— But if the action were harmful to a very great quantity of individuals . . . and if 
it rewarded us with only a very small quantity of pleasure, would it not then be a frightful 
thing to execute it? 

DOLMANCE— No more so, because there is no possible comparison between what others 
experience and what we sense; the heaviest dose of agony in others ought, assuredly, to be as 
naught to us, and the faintest quickening of pleasure, registered in us, does touch us; 
therefore, we should, at whatever the price, prefer this most minor excitation which enchants 
us, to the immense sum of others' miseries, which cannot affect us; but, on the contrary, 
should it happen that the singularity of our organs, some bizarre feature in our construction, 
renders agreeable to us the sufferings of our fellows, as sometimes occurs, who can doubt, 
then, that we should incontestably prefer anguish in others, which entertains us, to that 
anguish's absence, which would represent, for us, a kind of privation? The source of all our 
moral errors lies in the ridiculous acknowledgment of that tie of brotherhood the Christians 
invented in the age of their ill-fortune and sore distress. Constrained to beg pity from others, 
'twas not unclever to claim that all men are brothers; how is one to refuse aid if this 
hypothesis be accepted? But its rational acceptance is impossible; are we not all born solitary, 
isolated? I say more: are we not come into the world all enemies, the one of the other, all in a 

state of perpetual and reciprocal warfare? Now, I ask whether such would be the situation if 
they did truly exist, this supposed tie of brotherhood and the virtues it enjoins? Are they 
really natural? Were they inspired in man by Nature's voice, men would be aware of them at 
birth. From that time onward, pity, good works, generosity, would be native virtues against 
which 'twould be impossible to defend oneself, and would render the primitive state of savage 
man totally contrary to what we observe it to be. 

EUGENIE— Yet if, as you say, Nature caused man to be born alone, all independent of 
other men, you will at least grant me that his needs, bringing him together with other men, 
must necessarily have established some ties between them; whence blood relationships, ties 
of love too, of friendship, of gratitude: you will, I hope, respect those at least. 

DOLMANCE— No more than the others, I am afraid; but let us analyze them, I should like 
to: a swift glance, Eugenie, at each one in particular. Would you say, for example, that the 
need to marry or to prolong my race or to arrange my fortune or insure my future must 
establish indissoluble or sacred ties with the object I ally myself to? Would it not, I ask you, 
be an absurdity to argue thus? So long as the act of coition lasts, I may, to be sure, continue 
in need of that object, in order to participate in the act; but once it is over and I am satisfied, 
what, I wonder, will attach the results of this commerce to me? These latter relationships 
were the results of the terror of parents who dreaded lest they be abandoned in old age, and 
the politic attentions they show us when we are in our infancy have no object but to make 
them deserving of the same consideration when they are become old. Let us no longer be the 
dupes of this rubbish: we owe nothing to our parents . . . not the least thing, Eugenie, and 
since it is far less for our sake than for their own they have labored, we may rightfully test 
them, even rid ourselves of them if their behavior annoys us; we ought to love them only if 
they comport themselves well with us, and then our tenderness toward them ought not to be 
one degree greater than what we might feel for other friends, because the rights of birth 
establish nothing, are basis to nothing, and, once they have been wisely scrutinized and with 
deliberation, we will surely find nothing there but reasons to hate those who, exclusively 
thoughtful of their own pleasure, have often given us nothing but an unhappy and unhealthy 

You mention, Eugenie, ties of love; may you never know them! Ah! for the happiness I 
wish you, may such a sentiment never approach your breast! What is love? One can only 
consider it, so it seems to me, as the effect upon us of a beautiful object's qualities; these 
effects distract us; they inflame us; were we to possess this object, all would be well with us; 
if 'tis impossible to have it, we are in despair. But what is the foundation of this sentiment? 
desire. What are this sentiment's consequences? madness. Let us confine ourselves to the 
cause and guarantee ourselves against the effects. The cause is to possess the object: 
splendid! let's strive to succeed, but using our head, not losing our wits; let's enjoy it when 
we've got it; let's console ourselves if we fail: a thousand other identical and often much 
superior objects exist to soothe our regrets and our pride: all men, all women resemble each 
other: no love resists the effects of sane reflection. O 'tis a very great cheat and a dupery, this 
intoxication which puts us in such a state that we see no more, exist no more save through 
this object insanely adored! Is this really to live? Is it not rather voluntarily to deprive oneself 
of all life's sweetness? Is it not to wish to linger in a burning fever which devours, consumes 
us, without affording us other than metaphysical joys, which bear such a likeness to the 
effects of madness? Were we always to love this adorable object, were it certain we should 

never have to quit it, 'twould still be an extravagance without doubt, but at least an excusable 
one. Does this happen, however? Has one many examples of these deathless liaisons, unions 
which are never dissolved or repudiated? A few months of doting and dalliance soon restores 
the object to its proper size and shape, and we blush to think of the incense we have 
squanderingly burned upon that altar, and often we come to wonder that it ever could have 
seduced us at all. 

O voluptuous young women, deliver your bodies unto us as often and as much as you 
wish! Fuck, divert yourselves, that's the essential thing; but be quick to fly from love. There is 
none but physical good in it, said Buffon, and as a good philosopher he exercised his reason 
on an understanding of Nature. I repeat it, amuse yourselves; but love not at all; nor be any 
more concerned to make yourselves loved: to exhaust oneself in lamentation, waste in sighs, 
abase oneself in leering and oglings, pen billets-doux, 'tis not that which you must do; it is to 
fuck, to multiply and often change your fuckers, it is above all to oppose yourselves resolutely 
to enslavement by any one single person, because the outcome of constant love, binding you 
to him, would be to prevent you from giving yourself to someone else, a cruel selfishness 
which would soon become fatal to your pleasures. Women are not made for one single man; 
'tis for men at large Nature created them. Listening only to this sacred voice, let them 
surrender themselves, indifferently, to all who want them: always whores, never mistresses, 
eschewing love, worshiping pleasure; it will be roses only they will discover in life's career; it 
will no longer be but flowers they proffer us! Ask, Eugenie, ask the charming woman who has 
so kindly consented to undertake your education, ask her what is to be done with a man after 
one has enjoyed him. (In a lower voice, so as not to be heard by Augustin.) Ask her if she 
would lift a finger to save this Augustin who, today, is the cause of her delights. Should it fall 
out that someone wished to steal him from her, she would take another, would think no 
more on this one and, soon weary of the new, would herself sacrifice him within two months' 
time, were new pleasures to be born of this maneuver. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Let my dear Eugenie be very sure that Dolmance is 
describing the impulses of my heart, mine and that of every other woman, as if she were to 
unfold it to him herself. 

DOLMANCE— The final part of my analysis treats the bonds of friendship and those of 
gratitude. We shall respect the former, very well, provided they remain useful to us; let us 
keep our friends as long as they serve us; forget them immediately we have nothing further 
from them; 'tis never but selfishly one should love people; to love them for themselves is 
nothing but dupery; Nature never inspires other movements in mankind's soul, other 
sentiments than those which ought to prove useful in some sort, good for something; nothing 
is more an egoist than Nature; then let us be egoists too, if we wish to live in harmony with 
her dictates. As for gratitude, Eugenie, 'tis doubtless the most feeble of all the bonds. Is it 
then for ourselves men are obliging to us? Not a bit of it, my dear; 'tis through ostentation, 
for the sake of pride. Is it not humiliating thus to become the toy of others' pride? Is it not yet 
more so to fall into indebtedness to them? Nothing is more burdensome than a kindness one 
has received. No middle way, no compromise: you have got to repay it or ready yourself for 
abuse. Upon proud spirits a good deed sits very heavily: it weighs upon them with such 
violence that the one feeling they exhale is hatred for their benefactors. What then, in your 
opinion, are now the ties which supply the isolation wherein Nature creates us? What are 
they, those which should establish relationships between men? By what title should we love 

them, those others, cherish them, prefer them to ourselves? By what right should we relieve 
them, who says that we must relieve them in misfortune? Where now in our souls is that 
cradle of the pretty and useless virtues of generosity, humanity, charity, all those enumerated 
in the absurd codes of a few idiotic religious doctrines, doctrines which, preached by 
impostors or by indigents, were invented to secure them their sustenance and toleration? 
Why, Eugenie, why do you yet acknowledge something sacred in men? Do you conceive some 
reasons for not always preferring yourself to them? 

EUGENIE— What you say so thrills my heart that my mind can take no exception to it. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— These precepts are grounded in Nature, Eugenie; the proof is 
that you approve them; freshly hatched from her womb, how could what you sense be the 
fruit of corruption? 

EUGENIE— But if all the errors you speak of are in Nature, why do our laws oppose them? 

DOLMANCE— Those laws, being forged for universal application, are in perpetual conflict 
with personal interest, just as personal interest is always in contradiction with the general 
interest. Good for society, our laws are very bad for the individuals whereof it is composed; 
for, if they one time protect the individual, they hinder, trouble, fetter him for three quarters 
of his life; and so the wise man, the man full of contempt for them, will be wary of them, as 
he is of reptiles and vipers which, although they wound or kill, are nevertheless sometimes 
useful to medicine; he will safeguard himself against the laws as he would against noxious 
beasts; he will shelter himself behind precautions, behind mysteries, the which, for prudence, 
is easily done. Should the fancy to execute a few crimes inflame your spirit, Eugenie, be very 
certain you may commit them peacefully in the company of your friend and me. 

EUGENIE— Ah, the fancy is already in my heart! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— What caprice agitates you, Eugenie? you may report it to us 
in confidence. 

EUGENIE, wild-eyed— I want a victim. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— And of what sex would you desire her to be? 

DOLMANCE— Well, Madame, are you content with your student? does she make 
sufficiently rapid progress? 

EUGENIE, as above— A victim, my dearest, a victim! . . . Oh, God, that would cause my 
life's happiness! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— And what would you do with her? 

EUGENIE— Everything! . . . everything! ... all that could render her the most wretched of 
creatures. Oh, my dearest, my dearest, have pity on me! I can stand it no longer! 

DOLMANCE— By God, what an imagination! . . . Come, Eugenie, you are delicious . . . 
come, let me bestow a thousand kisses upon you! (He takes her in his arms.) Look, Madame, 
do you see it? Do you see this libertine discharge mentally, without anyone having touched 
her? I must absolutely embugger her once again. 

EUGENIE— And afterward will I have what I request? 

DOLMANCE— Yes, mad creature! . . . yes, we assure you, you shall! . . . 

EUGENIE— Oh, my friend, there is my ass! ... do with it what you will! . . . 

DOLMANCE— One moment, while I arrange this pleasure bout in a sufficiently lustful 
manner. (As Dolmance gives his orders, each person executes them, taking his post.) 
Augustin, lie down on the bed; Eugenie, do you recline in his arms; while I sodomize her, I'll 
frig her clitoris with the head of Augustin's superb prick, and Augustin who must be sparing 
of his fuck will take good care not to discharge; the gentle Chevalier— who, without saying a 
word, softly frigs himself while listening to us— will have the kindness to arrange himself 
upon Eugenie's shoulders so as to expose his fine buttocks to my kisses: I'll frig him amain; 
so shall I have my engine in an ass and a prick in each hand, to pollute; and you, Madame, 
after having been your master, I want you to become mine: buckle on the most gigantic of 
your dildos. (Madame de Saint-Ange opens a chest filled with a store of them, and our hero 
selects the most massive.) Splendid! This, according to the label, is fourteen by ten; fit it 
about your loins, Madame, and spare me not. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Indeed, Dolmance, you had best reconsider. I will cripple 
you with this device. 

DOLMANCE— Fear not; push, my angel, penetrate: I'll not enter your dear Eugenie's ass 
until your enormous member is well advanced into mine . . . and it is! it is! oh, little Jesus! . . 
. You propel me heavenward! ... No pity, my lovely one ... I tell you I am going to fuck your 
ass without preparations ... oh, sweet God! magnificent ass! ... 

EUGENIE— Oh, my friend, you are tearing me at least prepare the way. 

DOLMANCE— I'll do nothing of the sort, by God: half the pleasure's lost by these stupid 
attentions. Put yourself in mind of our principles, Eugenie: I labor in my behalf only: now 
victim for a moment, my lovely angel, soon you'll persecute in your turn. . . . Ah, holy God, it 
enters! . . . 

EUGENIE— You are putting me to death! 

DOLMANCE-Ah God! I touch bottom! . . . 

EUGENIE— Ah, do what you will, 'tis arrived ... I feel nothing but pleasure! . . . 

DOLMANCE— How I love to frig this huge prick on a virgin's clitoris! . . . You, Chevalier, 
show me a good ass. ... Do I frig you well, libertine? . . . And you, Madame, do fuck me, fuck 
your slut . . . yes, I am she and wish to be . . . Eugenie, discharge, my angel, yes, discharge! . . . 

Despite himself, Augustin fills me with his fuck. ... I receive the Chevalier's, mine goes to 

join him I resist no more Eugenie, wiggle your buttocks and grip my prick: I am going 

to jet a blazing fuck-stream deep into your entrails Ah! fucking bugger of a God! I die! 

(He withdraws, the circle breaks.) Behold, Madame, here's your little libertine full of fuck 
again; the entrance to her cunt is soaked with it; frig her, vigorously smite her clitoris all wet 
with sperm: 'tis one of the most delicious things that may be done. 

EUGENIE, palpitating— Oh, my blessed one, what pleasure you give me! Ah, dear love, I 
burn with lubricity! (The posture is assumed.) 

DOLMANCE— Chevalier, as 'tis you who'll deflower this lovely child, add your 
ministrations to those of your sister, that she may swoon in your arms, and strike the 
sodomite's attitude: I am going to embugger you while Augustin does the same to me. (The 
disposition is effected.) 

LE CHEVALIER— Is my position satisfactory? 

DOLMANCE— Your ass ever so gently raised, up with it, a fraction of an inch, my love; 
there, just so . . . without lubrication, Chevalier? 

LE CHEVALIER— Why, bless my soul! as you damned well please; can I feel anything but 
pleasure in this delicious girl's womb! (He kisses her, frigs her, burying a finger in her cunt 
while Madame de Saint-Ange strums Eugenie's clitoris.) 

DOLMANCE— As for myself, my dear, I, be assured of it, I take far more pleasure with you 

than with Eugenie; there is an immense difference between a boy's and girl's ass So 

bugger me, Augustin! what a bloody effort is required to get you to move! 

AUGUSTIN— B'damn, Sir, it's because it's just been running and dripping a moment ago 
into this pretty little turtledove here and now you're wanting it to get right up for your bum 
there which really ain't so pretty. 

DOLMANCE— Idiot! But why complain? 'Tis Mother Nature. Well, go on, trusty Augustin, 
go on with your indiscriminate penetrating, and when one day you have a little more 
experience, you will tell me whether one ass isn't worth thirty cunts. . . . Eugenie, deal fairly 
with the Chevalier; you are thoughtless of everyone but yourself; well, libertine, you are 
right; but in your own pleasure's interest, frig him, since he is to gather your first fruits. 

EUGENIE— But I am frigging him, I do kiss him, I am going out of my head Aie! aie! 

aie! my friends, I can stand no more . . . pity my condition ... I am dying ... I discharge! Oh, 
God! I am in ecstasy! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Now, as for myself, I have elected prudence and restraint: I wish merely to 
have this fine ass put me in form; the fuck that's being fired in me I am saving for Madame 
de Saint-Ange: 'tis wonderfully amusing to commence in one ass the operation one wishes to 
conclude in another. I say there, Chevalier, you seem nicely got up . . . shall we to the 
deflowering? . . . 

EUGENIE— Oh, heavens! no, not by him, I'd perish from it; yours is smaller, Dolmance: 
may it be you to whom I owe thanks for the operation, I beg of you! 

DOLMANCE— 'Tis out of the question, my angel; I've never fucked a cunt in my life and 
one cannot begin at my age. Your hymen belongs to the Chevalier: of us all here, he alone is 
worthy of its capture: do you not rob him of his just prize. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Refuse a maidenhead ... as fresh, as pretty as this-for I 
defy anyone to say my Eugenie is not the loveliest girl in France— oh, Monsieur! Monsieur, 
indeed, that's what I call holding too closely to one's principles! 

DOLMANCE— You say I am too scrupulous, Madame? 'Tis unkind. For there are 
multitudes of my colleagues, stricter in their worship than I, who most assuredly would not 

bugger you I, I've done it, and would do it again: it is not, thus, as you suspect, a question 

of carrying my worship to the point of fanaticism. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Well then Chevalier, the task is yours, proceed; but have a 
little care what you do; consider the narrowness of the channel you are going to navigate: 
what of the proportion between the contents and the container? 

EUGENIE— Oh, 'twill kill me, I'm sure of it, 'tis inevitable But my furious desire to be 

fucked makes me chance it fearlessly Go on, penetrate, my dear, I abandon myself to you. 

LE CHEVALIER, taking a firm grip upon his rampant prick— Fuck, yes! let it go in 

Sister, Dolmance, each of you take one of her legs Ah, by God, what an enterprise! . . . Yes, 

yes, she must be split like a melon, halved, God and God again, yes, it's got to enter! 

EUGENIE— Gently, gently, the pain is great (She screams; tears roll down her cheeks.) 

Help me! my good friend (She struggles.) No, I don't want him to do it! . . . I'll cry for help 

if you persist! . . . 

LE CHEVALIER— Cry away as much as you please, little chit, I tell you it must go in even 
were it to shiver you into small pieces. 

EUGENIE— What barbarity! 

DOLMANCE— Fuck! is one expected to be a gentleman when one is stiff? 

LE CHEVALIER— Ha! look! it's sunk . . . it's in! by God! . . . Fuck! there's the maidenhead 
blasted to the devil! . . . Look how it bleeds! 

EUGENIE— Go on, tiger! . . . tear me to ribbons if you wish ... I don't care a damn! . . . kiss 
me, butcher, I adore you! . . . Oh, 'tis nothing when it's inside: all the pains are forgot. . . . 
Woe unto girls who shy away from such an attack! . . . What tremendous pleasures they deny 
themselves at the cost of a little trouble! . . . Thrust! thrust! push! Chevalier, I am coming! . . . 
spray your fuck over the wounds and lacerations . . . drive it to the bottom of my womb . . . 
ah! suffering gives way to pleasure ... I am ready to swoon! . . . (The Chevalier discharges; 
while he fucked, Dolmance toyed with his ass and balls, and Madame de Saint-Ange tickled 

Eugenie's clitoris. They dissolve their position.) 

DOLMANCE— 'Twould be my opinion that, while the avenue is open, the little bitch might 
instantly be fucked by Augustin! 

EUGENIE— By Augustin! ... a prick of those dimensions! ... ah, immediately! . . . While I 
am still bleeding! ... Do you then wish to kill me? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Dear heart . . . kiss me, I sympathize with you . . . but 
sentence has been pronounced; there is no appeal, my dearest: you have got to submit to it. 

AUGUSTIN— Ah, zounds! here I am, all ready: soon's it means sticking this bonny girl and 
I'd come, by God, all the way from Rome, on foot. 

LE CHEVALIER, grasping Augustin 's mammoth device— Look at it, Eugenie, look how it is 
erect . . . how worthy it is to replace me. . . . 

EUGENIE— Oh merciful heaven, what a piece! . . . Oh, 'tis clear, you design my death! . . . 

AUGUSTIN, seizing Eugenie— Oh. no, Mam'selle, that's never killed anybody. 

DOLMANCE— One instant, my fine boy, one instant: she must present her ass to me while 
you fuck her . . . yes, that's it, come hither, Madame; I promised to sodomize you, I'll keep my 
word; but situate yourself in such a way that as I fuck you, I can be within reach of Eugenie's 
fucker. And let the Chevalier flog me in the meantime. (All is arranged.) 

EUGENIE— Oh fuck! he cracks me! ... Go gently, great lout! . . . Ah, the bugger! he digs in! 
. . . there 'tis, the fucking-john! . . . he's at the very bottom! . . . I'm dying! . . . Oh, Dolmance, 
how you strike! . . . 'tis to ignite me before and behind; you're setting my buttocks afire! 

DOLMANCE, swinging his whip with all his strength— You'll be afire . . . you'll burn, little 
bitch! . . . and you'll only discharge the more deliciously. How you frig her, Saint-Ange ... let 
your deft fingers soothe the hurt that Augustin and I cause her! . . . But your anus contracts . . 

. I see it, Madame, I see it! we're going to come together Oh, 'tis I know not how divine 

thus to be, 'twixt brother and sister! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, to Dolmance-Fuck, my star, fuck! . . . Never do I believe I 
have had so much pleasure! 

LE CHEVALIER— Dolmance, let's change hands; be nimble: pass from my sister's ass to 
Eugenie's, so as to acquaint her with the intermediary's pleasures, and I will embugger my 
sister who meanwhile will shower upon your ass the very whip strokes wherewith you've just 
brought Eugenie's behind to blood. 

DOLMANCE, executing the proposal— Agreed . . . there, my friend, hast ever seen a shift 
more cunningly effected? 

EUGENIE— What! both of them on top of me, good heavens! . . . what will come next? I've 
really had enough of this oaf! . . . Ah, how much fuck this double pleasure is going to cost me! 

... it flows already. Without that sensual ejaculation, I believe I would be already dead 

Why, my dearest, you imitate me Oh, hear the bitch swear! . . . Discharge, Dolmance, . . . 

discharge, my love . . . this fat peasant inundates me: he shoots to the depths of my entrails. . 
. . Oh, my good fuckers, what is this? Two at a time? Good Christ! . . . receive my fuck, dear 
companions, it conjoins itself with your own. ... I am annihilated. . . . (The attitudes are 
dissolved.) Well, my dear, what think you of your scholar? . . . Am I enough of a whore now? . 
. . But what a state you do put me in . . . what an agitation! . . . Oh, yes, I swear, in my 
drunkenness, I swear I would have gone if necessary and got myself fucked in the middle of 
the street! . . . 

DOLMANCE-How beautiful she is thus. 

EUGENIE— You! I detest you: you refused me. 

DOLMANCE-Could I contradict my dogmas? 

EUGENIE— Very well, I forgive you, and I must respect the principles which lead us to wild 
conduct; how could I not acknowledge and adopt them, I who wish not to live save in crime? 
Let's sit down and chat a little; I'm exhausted. Continue my instruction, Dolmance, and say 
something that will console me for the excesses to which I have given myself over; stifle my 
remorse; encourage me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— 'Tis fair enough: as we say, a little theory must succeed 
practice: it is the means to make a perfect disciple. 

DOLMANCE— Well then! Upon what subject, Eugenie, would you like to have a 

EUGENIE— I should like to know whether manners are truly necessary in a governed 
society, whether their influence has any weight with the national genius. 

DOLMANCE— Why, by God, I have something here with me. As I left home this morning I 
bought, outside the Palace of Equality, a little pamphlet, which if one can believe the title, 
ought surely to answer your question It's come straight from the press. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Let me see it. (She reads:) "Yet Another Effort, Frenchmen, 
If You Would Become Republicans." Upon my word, 'tis an unusual title: 'tis promising; 
Chevalier, you possess a fine organ, read it to us. 

DOLMANCE— Unless I am mistaken, this should perfectly reply to Eugenie's queries. 

EUGENIE— Assuredly! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Out with you, Augustin: this is not for you; but don't go too 
far; we'll ring when we want you back. 

LE CHEVALIER- Well, I'll begin. 



I am about to put forward some major ideas; they will be heard and pondered. If not all of 
them please, surely a few will; in some sort, then, I shall have contributed to the progress of 
our age, and shall be content. We near our goal, but haltingly: I confess that I am disturbed 
by the presentiment that we are on the eve of failing once again to arrive there. Is it thought 
that goal will be attained when at last we have been given laws? Abandon the notion; for what 
should we, who have no religion, do with laws? We must have a creed, a creed befitting the 
republican character, something far removed from ever being able to resume the worship of 
Rome. In this age, when we are convinced that morals must be the basis of religion, and not 
religion of morals, we need a body of beliefs in keeping with our customs and habits, 
something that would be their necessary consequence, and that could, by lifting up the spirit, 
maintain it perpetually at the high level of this precious liberty, which today the spirit has 
made its unique idol. 

Well, I ask, is it thinkable that the doctrine of one of Titus' slaves, of a clumsy histrionic 
from Judaea, be fitting to a free and warlike nation that has just regenerated itself? No, my 
fellow countrymen, no; you think nothing of the sort. If, to his misfortune, the Frenchman 
were to entomb himself in the grave of Christianity, then on one side the priests' pride, their 
tyranny, their despotism, vices forever cropping up in that impure horde, on the other side 
the baseness, the narrowness, the platitudes of dogma and mystery of this infamous and 
fabulous religion, would, by blunting the fine edge of the republican spirit, rapidly put about 
the Frenchman's neck the yoke which his vitality but yesterday shattered. 

Let us not lose sight of the fact this puerile religion was among our tyrants' best weapons: 
one of its key dogmas was to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. However, we have 
dethroned Caesar, we are no longer disposed to render him anything. Frenchmen, it would be 
in vain were you to suppose that your oath-taking clergy today is in any essential manner 
different from yesterday's non-juring clergy: there are inherent vices beyond all possibility of 
correction. Before ten years are out— utilizing the Christian religion, its superstitions, its 
prejudices— your priests, their pledges notwithstanding and though despoiled of their riches, 
are sure to reassert their empire over the souls they shall have undermined and captured; 
they shall restore the monarchy, because the power of kings has always reinforced that of the 
church; and your republican edifice, its foundations eaten away, shall collapse. 

O you who have axes ready to hand, deal the final blow to the tree of superstition; be not 
content to prune its branches: uproot entirely a plant whose effects are so contagious. Well 
understand that your system of liberty and equality too rudely affronts the ministers of 
Christ's altars for there ever to be one of them who will either adopt it in good faith or give 
over seeking to topple it, if he is able to recover any dominion over consciences. What priest, 
comparing the condition to which he has been reduced with the one he formerly enjoyed, will 
not do his utmost to win back both the confidence and the authority he has lost? And how 
many feeble and pusillanimous creatures will not speedily become again the thralls of this 
cunning shavepate! Why is it imagined that the nuisances which existed before cannot be 
revived to plague us anew? In the Christian church's infancy, were priests less ambitious 
than they are today? You observe how far they advanced; to what do you suppose they owed 

their success if not to the means religion furnished them? Well, if you do not absolutely 
prohibit this religion, those who preach it, having yet the same means, will soon achieve the 
same ends. 

Then annihilate forever what may one day destroy your work. Consider that the fruit of 
your labors being reserved for your grandchildren only, duty and probity command that you 
bequeath them none of those seeds of disaster which could mean for your descendants a 
renewal of the chaos whence we have with so much trouble just emerged. At the present 
moment our prejudices are weakening; the people have already abjured the Catholic 
absurdities; they have already suppressed the temples, sent the relics flying, and agreed that 
marriage is a mere civil undertaking; the smashed confessionals serve as public meeting 
places; the former faithful, deserting the apostolic banquet, leave the gods of flour dough to 
the mice. Frenchmen, an end to your waverings: all of Europe, one hand halfway raised to the 
blindfold over her eyes, expects that effort by which you must snatch it from her head. Make 
haste: holy Rome strains every nerve to repress your vigor; hurry, lest you give Rome time to 
secure her grip upon the few proselytes remaining to her. Unsparingly and recklessly smite 
off her proud and trembling head; and before two months the tree of liberty, overshadowing 
the wreckage of Peter's Chair, will soar victoriously above all the contemptible Christian 
vestiges and idols raised with such effrontery over the ashes of Cato and Brutus. 

Frenchmen, I repeat it to you: Europe awaits her deliverance from scepter and censer alike. 
Know well that you cannot possibly liberate her from royal tyranny without at the same time 
breaking for her the fetters of religious superstition: the shackles of the one are too 
intimately linked to those of the other; let one of the two survive, and you cannot avoid 
falling subject to the other you have left intact. It is no longer before the knees of either an 
imaginary being or a vile impostor a republican must prostrate himself; his only gods must 
now be courage and liberty. Rome disappeared immediately Christianity was preached there, 
and France is doomed if she continues to revere it. 

Let the absurd dogmas, the appalling mysteries, the impossible morality of this disgusting 
religion be examined with attention, and it will be seen whether it befits a republic. Do you 
honestly believe I would allow myself to be dominated by the opinion of a man I had just 
seen kneeling before the idiot priest of Jesus? No; certainly not! That eternally base fellow 
will eternally adhere, by dint of the baseness of his attitudes, to the atrocities of the ancien 
regime; as of the moment he were able to submit to the stupidities of a religion as abject as 
the one we are mad enough to acknowledge, he is no longer competent to dictate laws or 
transmit learning to me; I no longer see him as other than a slave to prejudice and 

To convince ourselves, we have but to cast our eyes upon the handful of individuals who 
remain attached to our fathers' insensate worship: we will see whether they are not all 
irreconcilable enemies of the present system, we will see whether it is not amongst their 
numbers that all of that justly contemned caste of royalists and aristocrats is included. Let 
the slave of a crowned brigand grovel, if he pleases, at the feet of a plaster image; such an 
object is readymade for his soul of mud. He who can serve kings must adore gods; but we, 
Frenchmen, but we, my fellow countrymen, we, rather than once more crawl beneath such 
contemptible traces, we would die a thousand times over rather than abase ourselves anew! 
Since we believe a cult necessary, let us imitate the Romans: actions, passions, heroes— those 
were the objects of their respect. Idols of this sort elevated the soul, electrified it, and more: 
they communicated to the spirit the virtues of the respected being. Minerva's devotee coveted 
wisdom. Courage found its abode in his heart who worshiped Mars. Not a single one of that 

great people's gods was deprived of energy; all of them infused into the spirit of him who 
venerated them the fire with which they were themselves ablaze; and each Roman hoped 
someday to be himself worshiped, each aspired to become as great at least as the deity he 
took for a model. But what, on the contrary, do we find in Christianity's futile gods? What, I 
want to know, what does this idiot's religion offer you? 8 Does the grubby Nazarene fraud 
inspire any great thoughts in you? His foul, nay repellent mother, the shameless Mary— does 
she excite any virtues? And do you discover in the saints who garnish the Christian Elysium, 
any example of greatness, of either heroism or virtue? So alien to lofty conceptions is this 
miserable belief, that no artist can employ its attributes in the monuments he raises; even in 
Rome itself, most of the embellishments of the papal palaces have their origins in paganism, 
and as long as this world shall continue, paganism alone will arouse the verve of great men. 

Shall we find more motifs of grandeur in pure theism? Will acceptance of a chimera infuse 
into men's minds the high degree of energy essential to republican virtues, and move men to 
cherish and practice them? Let us imagine nothing of the kind; we have bid farewell to that 
phantom and, at the present time, atheism is the one doctrine of all those prone to reason. As 
we gradually proceeded to our enlightenment, we came more and more to feel that, motion 
being inherent in matter, the prime mover existed only as an illusion, and that all that exists 
essentially having to be in motion, the motor was useless; we sensed that this chimerical 
divinity, prudently invented by the earliest legislators, was, in their hands, simply one more 
means to enthrall us, and that, reserving unto themselves the right to make the phantom 
speak, they knew very well how to get him to say nothing but what would shore up the 
preposterous laws whereby they declared they served us. Lycurgus, Numa, Moses, Jesus 
Christ, Mohammed, all these great rogues, all these great thought-tyrants, knew how to 
associate the divinities they fabricated with their own boundless ambition; and, certain of 
captivating the people with the sanction of those gods, they were always studious, as 
everyone knows, either to consult them exclusively about, or to make them exclusively 
respond to, what they thought likely to serve their own interests. 

Therefore, today let us equally despise both that empty god impostors have celebrated, and 
all the farce of religious subtleties surrounding a ridiculous belief: it is no longer with this 
bauble that free men are to be amused. Let the total extermination of cults and 
denominations therefore enter into the principles we broadcast throughout all Europe. Let us 
not be content with breaking scepters; we will pulverize the idols forever: there is never more 
than a single step from superstition to royalism. 9 Does anyone doubt it? Then let him 
understand once and for all, that in every age one of the primary concerns of kings has been 
to maintain the dominant religion as one of the political bases that best sustains the throne. 
But, since it is shattered, that throne, and since it is, happily, shattered for all time, let us 
have not the slightest qualm about also demolishing the thing that supplied its plinth. 

Yes, citizens, religion is incompatible with the libertarian system; you have sensed as 
much. Never will a free man stoop to Christianity's gods; never will its dogmas, its rites, its 
mysteries, or its morals suit a republican. One more effort; since you labor to destroy all the 
old foundations, do not permit one of them to survive, for let but one endure, 'tis enough, the 
rest will be restored. And how much more certain of their revival must we not be if the one 
you tolerate is positively the source and cradle of all the others! Let us give over thinking 
religion can be useful to man; once good laws are decreed unto us, we will be able to dispense 
with religion. But, they assure us, the people stand in need of one; it amuses them, they are 
soothed by it. Fine! Then, if that be the case, give us a religion proper to free men; give us the 

gods of paganism. We shall willingly worship Jupiter, Hercules, Pallas; but we have no use 
for a dimensionless god who nevertheless fills everything with his immensity, an omnipotent 
god who never achieves what he wills, a supremely good being who creates malcontents only, 
a friend of order in whose government everything is in turmoil. No, we want no more of a god 
who is at loggerheads with Nature, who is the father of confusion, who moves man at the 
moment man abandons himself to horrors; such a god makes us quiver with indignation, and 
we consign him forever to the oblivion whence the infamous Robespierre wished to call him 
forth. 10 

Frenchmen, in the stead of that unworthy phantom, we will substitute the imposing 
simulacra that rendered Rome mistress of the earth; let us treat every Christian image as we 
have the tokens of monarchy. There where once tyrants sat we have mounted emblems of 
liberty; in like manner we will place effigies of great men on the pedestals once occupied by 
statues of the knaves Christianity adored. 11 Let us cease to entertain doubts as to the effect of 
atheism in the country: have not the peasants felt the necessity of the annihilation of the 
Catholic cult, so contradictory to the true principles of freedom? Have they not watched 
undaunted, and without sorrow or pain, their altars and presbyteries battered to bits? Ah! rest 
assured, they will renounce their ridiculous god in the same way. The statues of Mars, of 
Minerva, and of Liberty will be set up in the most conspicuous places in the villages; holidays 
will be celebrated there every year; the prize will be decreed to the worthiest citizen. At the 
entrance to a secluded wood, Venus, Hymen, and Love, erected beneath a rustic temple, will 
receive lovers' homages; there, by the hand of the Graces, Beauty will crown Constancy. More 
than mere loving will be required in order to pose one's candidacy for the tiara; it will be 
necessary to have merited love. Heroism, capabilities, humaneness, largeness of spirit, a 
proven civism— those are the credentials the lover shall be obliged to present at his mistress' 
feet, and they will be of far greater value than the titles of birth and wealth a fool's pride used 
to require. Some virtues at least will be born of this worship, whereas nothing but crimes 
come of that other we had the weakness to profess. This worship will ally itself to the liberty 
we serve; it will animate, nourish, inflame liberty, whereas theism is in its essence and in its 
nature the most deadly enemy of the liberty we adore. 

Was a drop of blood spilled when the pagan idols were destroyed under the Eastern 
Empire? The revolution, prepared by the stupidity of a people become slaves again, was 
accomplished without the slightest hindrance or outcry. Why do we dread the work of 
philosophy as more painful than that of despotism? It is only the priests who still hold the 
people, whom you hesitate to enlighten, captive at the feet of their imaginary god: take the 
priests from the people, and the veil will fall away naturally. Be persuaded that these people, 
a good deal wiser than you suppose them, once rid of tyranny's irons, will soon also be rid of 
superstition's. You are afraid of the people unrestrained— how ridiculous! Ah, believe me, 
citizens, the man not to be checked by the material sword of justice will hardly be halted by 
the moral fear of hell's torments, at which he has laughed since childhood; in a word, many 
crimes have been committed as a consequence of your theism, but never has it prevented a 
single one. 

If it is true that passions blind, that their effect is to cloud our eyes to dangers that 
surround us, how may we suppose that those dangers which are remote, such as the 
punishments announced by your god, can successfully dispel the cloud not even the blade of 
the law itself, constantly suspended above the passions, is able to penetrate? If then it is 
patently clear that this supplementary check imposed by the idea of a god becomes useless, if 
it is demonstrated that by its other effects it is dangerous, then I wish to know, to what use 

can it be put, and from what motives should we lend our support in order to prolong its 

Is someone about to tell me that we are not yet mature enough to consolidate our 
revolution in so brilliant a manner? Ah, my fellow citizens, the road we took in '89 has been 
much more difficult than the one still ahead of us, and we have little yet to do to conquer the 
opinion we have been harrying since the time of the overwhelming of the Bastille. Let us 
firmly believe that a people wise enough and brave enough to drag an impudent monarch 
from the heights of grandeur to the foot of the scaffold, a people that, in these last few years, 
has been able to vanquish so many prejudices and sweep away so many ridiculous 
impediments, will be sufficiently wise and brave to terminate the affair and in the interests of 
the republic's well-being, abolish a mere phantom after having successfully beheaded a real 

Frenchmen, only strike the initial blows; your State education will then see to the rest. Get 
promptly to the task of training the youth, it must be amongst your most important concerns; 
above all, build their education upon a sound ethical basis, the ethical basis that was so 
neglected in your religious education. Rather than fatigue your children's young organs with 
deific stupidities, replace them with excellent social principles; instead of teaching them 
futile prayers which, by the time they are sixteen, they will glory in having forgotten, let them 
be instructed in their duties toward society; train them to cherish the virtues you scarcely 
ever mentioned in former times and which, without your religious fables, are sufficient for 
their individual happiness; make them sense that this happiness consists in rendering others 
as fortunate as we desire to be ourselves. If you repose these truths upon Christian chimeras, 
as you so foolishly used to do, scarcely will your pupils have detected the absurd futility of its 
foundations than they will overthrow the entire edifice, and they will become bandits for the 
simple reason they believe the religion they have toppled forbids them to be bandits. On the 
other hand, if you make them sense the necessity of virtue, uniquely because their happiness 
depends upon it, egoism will turn them into honest people, and this law which dictates their 
behavior to men will always be the surest, the soundest of all. Let there then be the most 
scrupulous care taken to avoid mixing religious fantasies into this State education. Never lose 
sight of the fact it is free men we wish to form, not the wretched worshipers of a god. Let a 
simple philosopher introduce these new pupils to the inscrutable but wonderful sublimities 
of Nature; let him prove to them that awareness of a god, often highly dangerous to men, 
never contributed to their happiness, and that they will not be happier for acknowledging as a 
cause of what they do not understand, something they well understand even less; that it is far 
less essential to inquire into the workings of Nature than to enjoy her and obey her laws; that 
these laws are as wise as they are simple; that they are written in the hearts of all men; and 
that it is but necessary to interrogate that heart to discern its impulse. If they wish absolutely 
that you speak to them of a creator, answer that things always having been what now they 
are, never having had a beginning and never going to have an end, it thus becomes as useless 
as impossible for man to be able to trace things back to an imaginary origin which would 
explain nothing and do not a jot of good. Tell them that men are incapable of obtaining true 
notions of a being who does not make his influence felt on one of our senses. 

All our ideas are representations of objects that strike us: what is to represent to us the 
idea of a god, who is plainly an idea without object? Is not such an idea, you will add when 
talking to them, quite as impossible as effects without causes? Is an idea without prototype 
anything other than an hallucination? Some scholars, you will continue, assure us that the 
idea of a god is innate, and that mortals already have this idea when in their mothers' bellies. 

But, you will remark, that is false; every principle is a judgment, every judgment the outcome 
of experience, and experience is only acquired by the exercise of the senses; whence it follows 
that religious principles bear upon nothing whatever and are not in the slightest innate. How, 
you will go on, how have they been able to convince rational beings that the thing most 
difficult to understand is the most vital to them? It is that mankind has been terrorized; it is 
that when one is afraid one ceases to reason; it is, above all, that we have been advised to 
mistrust reason and defy it; and that, when the brain is disturbed, one believes anything and 
examines nothing. Ignorance and fear, you will repeat to them, ignorance and fear— those are 
the twin bases of every religion. 

Man's uncertainty with respect to his god is, precisely, the cause for his attachment to his 
religion. Man's fear in dark places is as much physical as moral; fear becomes habitual in 
him, and is changed into need: he would believe he were lacking something even were he to 
have nothing more to hope for or dread. Next, return to the utilitarian value of morals: 
apropos of this vast subject, give them many more examples than lessons, many more 
demonstrations than books, and you will make good citizens of them: you will turn them into 
fine warriors, fine fathers, fine husbands: you will fashion men that much more devoted to 
their country's liberty, whose minds will be forever immune to servility, forever hostile to 
servitude, whose genius will never be troubled by any religious terror. And then true 
patriotism will shine in every spirit, and will reign there in all its force and purity, because it 
will become the sovereign sentiment there, and no alien notion will dilute or cool its energy; 
then your second generation will be sure, reliable, and your own work, consolidated by it, will 
go on to become the law of the universe. But if, through fear or faintheartedness, these 
counsels are ignored, if the foundations of the edifice we thought we destroyed are left intact, 
what then will happen? They will rebuild upon these foundations, and will set thereupon the 
same colossi, with this difference, and it will be a cruel one: the new structures will be 
cemented with such strength that neither your generation nor ensuing ones will avail against 

Let there be no doubt of it: religions are the cradles of despotism: the foremost amongst all 
the despots was a priest: the first king and the first emperor of Rome, Numa and Augustus, 
associated themselves, the one and the other, with the sacerdotal; Constantine and Clovis 
were rather abbots than sovereigns; Heliogabalus was priest of the sun. At all times, in every 
century, every age, there has been such a connection between despotism and religion that it is 
infinitely apparent and demonstrated a thousand times over, that in destroying one, the other 
must be undermined, for the simple reason that the first will always put the law into the 
service of the second. I do not, however, propose either massacres or expulsions. Such 
dreadful things have no place in the enlightened mind. No, do not assassinate at all, do not 
expel at all; these are royal atrocities, or the brigands' who imitate kings; it is not at all by 
acting as they that you will force men to look with horror upon them who practiced those 
crimes. Let us reserve the employment of force for the idols; ridicule alone will suffice for 
those who serve them: Julian's sarcasm wrought greater damage to Christianity than all 
Nero's tortures. Yes, we shall destroy for all time any notion of a god, and make soldiers of 
his priests; a few of them are already; let them keep to this trade, soldiering, so worthy of a 
republican; but let them give us no more of their chimerical being nor of his nonsense-filled 
religion, the single object of our scorn. 

Let us condemn the first of those blessed charlatans who comes to us to say a few more 
words either of god or of religion, let us condemn him to be jeered at, ridiculed, covered with 
filth in all the public squares and marketplaces in France's largest cities: imprisonment for 

life will be the reward of whosoever falls a second time into the same error. Let the most 
insulting blasphemy, the most atheistic works next be fully and openly authorized, in order to 
complete the extirpation from the human heart and memory of those appalling pastimes of 
our childhood; let there be put in circulation the writings most capable of finally illuminating 
the Europeans upon a matter so important, and let a considerable prize, to be bestowed by 
the Nation, be awarded to him who, having said and demonstrated everything upon this 
score, will leave to his countrymen no more than a scythe to mow the land clean of all those 
phantoms, and a steady heart to hate them. In six months, the whole will be done; your 
infamous god will be as naught, and all that without ceasing to be just, jealous of the esteem 
of others without ceasing to be honest men; for it will have been sensed that the real friend of 
his country must in no way be led about by chimeras, as is the slave of kings; that it is not, in 
a word, either the frivolous hope of a better world nor fear of the greatest ills Nature sends us 
that must lead a republican, whose only guide is virtue and whose one restraint is conscience. 


After having made it clear that theism is in no wise suitable to a republican government, it 
seems to me necessary to prove that French manners are equally unsuitable to it. This article 
is the more crucial, for the laws to be promulgated will issue from manners, and will mirror 

Frenchmen, you are too intelligent to fail to sense that new government will require new 
manners. That the citizens of a free State conduct themselves like a despotic king's slaves is 
unthinkable: the differences of their interests, of their duties, of their relations amongst one 
another essentially determine an entirely different manner of behaving in the world; a crowd 
of minor faults and of little social indelicacies, thought of as very fundamental indeed under 
the rule of kings whose expectations rose in keeping with the need they felt to impose curbs 
in order to appear respectable and unapproachable to their subjects, are due to become as 
nothing with us; other crimes with which we are acquainted under the names of regicide and 
sacrilege, in a system where kings and religion will be unknown, in the same way must be 
annihilated in a republican State. In according freedom of conscience and of the press, 
consider, citizens— for it is practically the same thing— whether freedom of action must not be 
granted too: excepting direct clashes with the underlying principles of government, there 
remain to you it is impossible to say how many fewer crimes to punish, because in fact there 
are very few criminal actions in a society whose foundations are liberty and equality. Matters 
well weighed and things closely inspected, only that is really criminal which rejects the law; 
for Nature, equally dictating vices and virtues to us, in reason of our constitution, yet more 
philosophically, in reason of the need Nature has of the one and the other, what she inspires 
in us would become a very reliable gauge by which to adjust exactly what is good and bad. 
But, the better to develop my thoughts upon so important a question, we will classify the 
different acts in man's life that until the present it has pleased us to call criminal, and we will 
next square them to the true obligations of a republican. 

In every age, the duties of man have been considered under the following three categories: 

1. Those his conscience and his credulity impose upon him, with what regards a supreme 

2. Those he is obliged to fulfill toward his brethren; 

3. Finally, those that relate only to himself. 

The certainty in which we must be that no god meddles in our affairs and that, as 
necessary creatures of Nature, like plants and animals, we are here because it would be 
impossible for us not to be—, this unshakable certainty, it is clear enough, at one stroke 
erases the first group of duties, those, I wish to say, toward the divinity to which we 
erroneously believe ourselves beholden; and with them vanish all religious crimes, all those 
comprehended under the indefinite names of impiety, sacrilege, blasphemy, atheism, etc., all 
those, in brief, which Athens so unjustly punished in Alcibiades, and France in the 
unfortunate Labarre. If there is anything extravagant in this world it is to see men, in whom 
only shallowness of mind and poverty of ideas give rise to a notion of god and to what this 
god expects of them, nevertheless wish to determine what pleases and what angers their 
imagination's ridiculous phantom. It would hence not be merely to tolerate indifferently each 
of the cults that I should like to see us limit ourselves; I should like there to be perfect 
freedom to deride them all; I should like men, gathered in no matter what temple to invoke 
the eternal who wears their image, to be seen as so many comics in a theater, at whose antics 
everyone may go to laugh. Regarded in any other light, religions become serious, and then 
important once again; they will soon stir up and patronize opinions, and no sooner will 
people fall to disputing over religions than some will be beaten into favoring religions. 12 
Equality once wrecked by the preference or protection tendered one of them, the government 
will soon disappear, and out of the reconstituted theocracy the aristocracy will be reborn in a 
trice. I cannot repeat it to you too often: no more gods, Frenchmen, no more gods, lest under 
their fatal influence you wish to be plunged back into all the horrors of despotism; but it is 
only by jeering that you will destroy them; all the dangers they bring in their wake will 
instantly be revived en masse if you pamper or ascribe any consequence to them. Carried 
away by anger, you overthrow their idols? Not for a minute; have a bit of sport with them, 
and they will crumble to bits; once withered, the opinion will collapse of its own accord. 

I trust I have said enough to make plain that no laws ought to be decreed against religious 
crimes, for that which offends an illusion offends nothing, and it would be the height of 
inconsistency to punish those who outrage or who despise a creed or a cult whose priority to 
all others is established by no evidence whatsoever. No, that would necessarily be to exhibit a 
partiality and, consequently, to influence the scales of equality, that foremost law of your new 

We move on to the second class of man's duties, those which bind him to his fellows; this 
is of all the classes the most extensive. 

Excessively vague upon man's relations with his brothers, Christian morals propose bases 
so filled with sophistries that we are completely unable to accept them, since, if one is 
pleased to erect principles, one ought scrupulously to guard against founding them upon 
sophistries. This absurd morality tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Assuredly, 
nothing would be more sublime were it ever possible for what is false to be beautiful. The 
point is not at all to love one's brethren as oneself, since that is in defiance of all the laws of 
Nature, and since hers is the sole voice which must direct all the actions in our life; it is only 
a question of loving others as brothers, as friends given us by Nature, and with whom we 
should be able to live much better in a republican State, wherein the disappearance of 
distances must necessarily tighten the bonds. 

May humanity, fraternity, benevolence prescribe our reciprocal obligations, and let us 

individually fulfill them with the simple degree of energy Nature has given us to this end; let 
us do so without blaming, and above all without punishing, those who, of chillier temper or 
more acrimonious humor, do not notice in these yet very touching social ties all the 
sweetness and gentleness others discover therein; for, it will be agreed, to seek to impose 
universal laws would be a palpable absurdity: such a proceeding would be as ridiculous as 
that of the general who would have all his soldiers dressed in a uniform of the same size; it is 
a terrible injustice to require that men of unlike character all be ruled by the same law: what 
is good for one is not at all good for another. 

That we cannot devise as many laws as there are men must be admitted; but the laws can 
be lenient, and so few in number, that all men, of whatever character, can easily observe 
them. Furthermore, I would demand that this small number of laws be of such a sort as to be 
adaptable to all the various characters; they who formulate the code should follow the 
principle of applying more or less, according to the person in question. It has been pointed 
out that there are certain virtues whose practice is impossible for certain men, just as there 
are certain remedies which do not agree with certain constitutions. Now, would it not be to 
carry your injustice beyond all limits were you to send the law to strike the man incapable of 
bowing to the law? Would your iniquity be any less here than in a case where you sought to 
force the blind to distinguish amongst colors? 

From these first principles there follows, one feels, the necessity to make flexible, mild 
laws and especially to get rid forever of the atrocity of capital punishment, because the law 
which attempts a man's life is impractical, unjust, inadmissible. Not, and it will be clarified in 
the sequel, that we lack an infinite number of cases where, without offense to Nature (and 
this I shall demonstrate), men have freely taken one another's lives, simply exercising a 
prerogative received from their common mother; but it is impossible for the law to obtain the 
same privileges, since the law, cold and impersonal, is a total stranger to the passions which 
are able to justify in man the cruel act of murder. Man receives his impressions from Nature, 
who is able to forgive him this act; the law, on the contrary, always opposed as it is to Nature 
and receiving nothing from her, cannot be authorized to permit itself the same extravagances: 
not having the same motives, the law cannot have the same rights. Those are wise and 
delicate distinctions which escape many people, because very few of them reflect; but they 
will be grasped and retained by the instructed to whom I recommend them, and will, I hope, 
exert some influence upon the new code being readied for us. 

The second reason why the death penalty must be done away with is that it has never 
repressed crime; for crime is every day committed at the foot of the scaffold. This 
punishment is to be got rid of, in a word, because it would be difficult to conceive of a poorer 
calculation than this, by which a man is put to death for having killed another: under the 
present arrangement the obvious result is not one man the less but, of a sudden, two; such 
arithmetic is in use only amongst headsmen and fools. However all that may be, the injuries 
we can work against our brothers may be reduced to four types: calumny; theft; the crimes 
which, caused by impurity, may in a disagreeable sense affect others; and murder. 

All these were acts considered of the highest importance under the monarchy; but are they 
quite so serious in a republican State? That is what we are going to analyze with the aid of 
philosophy's torch, for by its light alone may such an inquiry be undertaken. Let no one tax 
me with being a dangerous innovator; let no one say that by my writings I seek to blunt the 
remorse in evildoers' hearts, that my humane ethics are wicked because they augment those 
same evildoers' penchant for crime. I wish formally to certify here and now, that I have none 
of these perverse intentions; I set forth the ideas which, since the age when I first began to 

reason, have identified themselves in me, and to whose expression and realization the 
infamous despotism of tyrants has been opposed for uncounted centuries. So much the worse 
for those susceptible to corruption by any idea; so much the worse for them who fasten upon 
naught but the harmful in philosophic opinions, who are likely to be corrupted by everything. 
Who knows? They may have been poisoned by reading Seneca and Charron. It is not to them 
I speak; I address myself only to people capable of hearing me out, and they will read me 
without any danger. 

It is with utmost candor I confess that I have never considered calumny an evil, and 
especially in a government like our own, under which all of us, bound closer together, nearer 
one to the other, obviously have a greater interest in becoming acquainted with one another. 
Either one or the other: calumny attaches to a truly evil man, or it falls upon a virtuous 
creature. It will be agreed that, in the first case, it makes little difference if one imputes a 
little more evil to a man known for having done a great deal of it; perhaps indeed the evil 
which does not exist will bring to light evil which does, and there you have him, the 
malefactor, more fully exposed than ever before. 

We will suppose now that an unwholesome influence reigns over Hanover, but that in 
repairing to that city where the air is insalubrious, I risk little worse than a bout of fever; may 
I reproach the man who, to prevent me from going to Hanover, tells me that one perishes 
upon arriving there? No, surely not; for, by using a great evil to frighten me, he spared me a 
lesser one. 

If, on the contrary, a virtuous man is calumniated, let him not be alarmed; he need but 
exhibit himself, and all the calumniator's venom will soon be turned back upon the latter. For 
such a person, calumny is merely a test of purity whence his virtue emerges more 
resplendent than ever. As a matter of fact, his individual ordeal may profit the cause of virtue 
in the republic, and add to its sum; for this virtuous and sensitive man, stung by the injustice 
done him, will apply himself to the cultivation of still greater virtue; he will want to overcome 
this calumny from which he thought himself sheltered, and his splendid actions will acquire 
a correspondingly greater degree of energy. Thus, in the first instance, the calumniator 
produces quite favorable results by inflating the vices of the dangerous object of his attacks; 
in the second, the results achieved are excellent, for virtue is obliged to offer itself to us 

Well now, I am at a loss to know for what reason the calumniator deserves your fear, 
especially under a regime where it is essential to identify the wicked, and to augment the 
energy of the good. Let us hence very carefully avoid any declarations prejudicial to calumny; 
we will consider it both a lantern and a stimulant, and in either case something highly useful. 
The legislator, all of whose ideas must be as large as the work he undertakes is great, must 
never be concerned with the effect of that crime which strikes only the individual. It is the 
general, overall effect he must study; and when in this manner he observes the effects 
calumny produces, I defy him to find anything punishable in it. I defy him to find any shadow 
or hint of justice in the law that would punish it; our legislator becomes the man of greatest 
justice and integrity if, on the contrary, he encourages and rewards it. 

Theft is the second of the moral offenses whose examination we proposed. 

If we glance at the history of ancient times, we will see theft permitted, nay, recompensed 
in all the Greek republics; Sparta and Lacedaemon openly favored it; several other peoples 
regarded it as a virtue in a warrior; it is certain that stealing nourishes courage, strength, skill, 
tact, in a word, all the virtues useful to a republican system and consequently to our own. Lay 
partiality aside, and answer me: is theft, whose effect is to distribute wealth more evenly, to 

be branded as a wrong in our day, under our government which aims at equality? Plainly, the 
answer is no: it furthers equality and, what is more, renders more difficult the conservation 
of property. There was once a people who punished not the thief but him who allowed 
himself to be robbed, in order to teach him to care for his property. This brings us to 
reflections of a broader scope. 

God forbid that I should here wish to assail the pledge to respect property the Nation has 
just given; but will I be permitted some remarks upon the injustice of this pledge? What is 
the spirit of the vow taken by all a nation's individuals? Is it not to maintain a perfect equality 
amongst citizens, to subject them all equally to the law protecting the possessions of all? 
Well, I ask you now whether that law is truly just which orders the man who has nothing to 
respect another who has everything? What are the elements of the social contract? Does it 
not consist in one's yielding a little of his freedom and of his wealth in order to assure and 
sustain the preservation of each? 

Upon those foundations all the laws repose; they justify the punishments inflicted upon 
him who abuses his liberty; in the same way, they authorize the imposition of conditions; 
these latter prevent a citizen from protesting when these things are demanded of him, 
because he knows that by means of what he gives, the rest of what he has is safeguarded for 
him; but, once again, by what right will he who has nothing be enchained by an agreement 
which protects only him who has everything? If, by your pledge, you perform an act of equity 
in protecting the property of the rich, do you not commit one of unfairness in requiring this 
pledge of the owner who owns nothing? What advantage does the latter derive from your 
pledge? and how can you expect him to swear to something exclusively beneficial to someone 
who, through his wealth, differs so greatly from him? Certainly, nothing is more unjust: an 
oath must have an equal effect upon all the individuals who pronounce it; that it bind him 
who has no interest in its maintenance is impossible, because it would no longer be a pact 
amongst free men; it would be the weapon of the strong against the weak, against whom the 
latter would have to be in incessant revolt. Well, such, exactly, is the situation created by the 
pledge to respect property the Nation has just required all the citizens to subscribe to under 
oath; by it only the rich enchain the poor, the rich alone benefit from a bargain into which the 
poor man enters so thoughtlessly, failing to see that through this oath wrung from his good 
faith, he engages himself to do a thing that cannot be done with respect to himself. 

Thus convinced, as you must be, of this barbarous inequality, do not proceed to worsen 
your injustice by punishing the man who has nothing for having dared to filch something 
from the man who has everything: your inequitable pledge gives him a greater right to it than 
ever. In driving him to perjury by forcing him to make a promise which, for him, is absurd, 
you justify all the crimes to which this perjury will impel him; it is not for you to punish 
something for which you have been the cause. I have no need to say more to make you sense 
the terrible cruelty of chastising thieves. Imitate the wise law of the people I spoke of just a 
moment ago; punish the man neglectful enough to let himself be robbed; but proclaim no 
kind of penalty against robbery. Consider whether your pledge does not authorize the act, and 
whether he who commits it does any more than put himself in harmony with the most sacred 
of Nature's movements, that of preserving one's own existence at no matter whose expense. 

The transgressions we are considering in this second class of man's duties toward his 
fellows include actions for whose undertaking libertinage may be the cause; among those 
which are pointed to as particularly incompatible with approved behavior are prostitution, 
incest, rape, and sodomy. We surely must not for one moment doubt that all those known as 
moral crimes, that is to say, all acts of the sort to which those we have just cited belong, are of 

total inconsequence under a government whose sole duty consists in preserving, by whatever 
may be the means, the form essential to its continuance: there you have a republican 
government's unique morality. Well, the republic being permanently menaced from the 
outside by the despots surrounding it, the means to its preservation cannot be imagined as 
moral means, for the republic will preserve itself only by war, and nothing is less moral than 
war. I ask how one will be able to demonstrate that in a state rendered immoral by its 
obligations, it is essential that the individual be moral? I will go further: it is a very good 
thing he is not. The Greek lawgivers perfectly appreciated the capital necessity of corrupting 
the member-citizens in order that, their moral dissolution coming into conflict with the 
establishment and its values, there would result the insurrection that is always indispensable 
to a political system of perfect happiness which, like republican government, must 
necessarily excite the hatred and envy of all its foreign neighbors. Insurrection, thought these 
sage legislators, is not at all a moral condition; however, it has got to be a republic's 
permanent condition. Hence it would be no less absurd than dangerous to require that those 
who are to insure the perpetual immoral subversion of the established order themselves be 
moral beings: for the state of a moral man is one of tranquillity and peace, the state of an 
immoral man is one of perpetual unrest that pushes him to, and identifies him with, the 
necessary insurrection in which the republican must always keep the government of which 
he is a member. 

We may now enter into detail and begin by analyzing modesty, that fainthearted negative 
impulse of contradiction to impure affections. Were it among Nature's intentions that man 
be modest, assuredly she would not have caused him to be born naked; unnumbered peoples, 
less degraded by civilization than we, go about naked and feel no shame on that account; 
there can be no doubt that the custom of dressing has had its single origin in harshness of 
climate and the coquetry of women who would rather provoke desire and secure to 
themselves its effects than have it caused and satisfied independently of themselves. They 
further reckoned that Nature having created them not without blemishes, they would be far 
better assured of all the means needed to please by concealing these flaws behind 
adornments; thus modesty, far from being a virtue, was merely one of corruption's earliest 
consequences, one of the first devices of female guile. 

Lycurgus and Solon, fully convinced that immodesty's results are to keep the citizen in the 
immoral state indispensable to the mechanics of republican government, obliged girls to 
exhibit themselves naked at the theater. 13 Rome imitated the example: at the games of Flora 
they danced naked; the greater part of pagan mysteries were celebrated thus; among some 
peoples, nudity even passed for a virtue. In any event, immodesty is born of lewd 
inclinations; what comes of these inclinations comprises the alleged criminality we are 
discussing, of which prostitution is the foremost effect. 

Now that we have got back upon our feet and broken with the host of prejudices that held 
us captive; now that, brought closer to Nature by the quantity of prejudices we have recently 
obliterated, we listen only to Nature's voice, we are fully convinced that if anything were 
criminal, it would be to resist the penchants she inspires in us, rather than to come to grips 
with them. We are persuaded that lust, being a product of those penchants, is not to be stifled 
or legislated against, but that it is, rather, a matter of arranging for the means whereby 
passion may be satisfied in peace. We must hence undertake to introduce order into this 
sphere of affairs, and to establish all the security necessary so that, when need sends the 
citizen near the objects of lust, he can give himself over to doing with them all that his 
passions demand, without ever being hampered by anything, for there is no moment in the 

life of man when liberty in its whole amplitude is so important to him. Various stations, 
cheerful, sanitary, spacious, properly furnished and in every respect safe, will be erected in 
divers points in each city; in them, all sexes, all ages, all creatures possible will be offered to 
the caprices of the libertines who shall come to divert themselves, and the most absolute 
subordination will be the rule of the individuals participating; the slightest refusal or 
recalcitrance will be instantly and arbitrarily punished by the injured party. I must explain 
this last more fully, and weigh it against republican manners; I promised I would employ the 
same logic from beginning to end, and I shall keep my word. 

Although, as I told you just a moment ago, no passion has a greater need of the widest 
horizon of liberty than has this, none, doubtless, is as despotic; here it is that man likes to 
command, to be obeyed, to surround himself with slaves compelled to satisfy him; well, 
whenever you withhold from man the secret means whereby he exhales the dose of 
despotism Nature instilled in the depths of his heart, he will seek other outlets for it, it will 
be vented upon nearby objects; it will trouble the government. If you would avoid that 
danger, permit a free flight and rein to those tyrannical desires which, despite himself, 
torment man ceaselessly: content with having been able to exercise his small dominion in the 
middle of the harem of sultanas and youths whose submission your good offices and his 
money procure for him, he will go away appeased and with nothing but fond feelings for a 
government which so obligingly affords him every means of satisfying his concupiscence; 
proceed, on the other hand, after a different fashion, between the citizen and those objects of 
public lust raise the ridiculous obstacles in olden times invented by ministerial tyranny and 
by the lubricity of our Sardanapaluses 14 — , do that, and the citizen, soon embittered against 
your regime, soon jealous of the despotism he sees you exercise all by yourself, will shake off 
the yoke you lay upon him, and, weary of your manner of ruling, will, as he has just done, 
substitute another for it. 

But observe how the Greek legislators, thoroughly imbued with these ideas, treated 
debauchery at Lacedaemon, at Athens: rather than prohibiting, they sotted the citizen on it; 
no species of lechery was forbidden him; and Socrates, whom the oracle described as the 
wisest philosopher of the land, passing indifferently from Aspasia's arms into those of 
Alcibiades, was not on that account less the glory of Greece. I am going to advance somewhat 
further, and however contrary are my ideas to our present customs, as my object is to prove 
that we must make all haste to alter those customs if we wish to preserve the government we 
have adopted, I am going to try to convince you that the prostitution of women who bear the 
name of honest is no more dangerous than the prostitution of men, and that not only must 
we associate women with the lecheries practiced in the houses I have set up, but we must 
even build some for them, where their whims and the requirements of their temper, ardent 
like ours but in a quite different way, may too find satisfaction with every sex. 

First of all, what right have you to assert that women ought to be exempted from the blind 
submission to men's caprices Nature dictates? and, secondly, by what other right do you 
defend their subjugation to a continence impossible to their physical structure and of perfect 
uselessness to their honor? 

I will treat each of these questions separately. 

It is certain, in a state of Nature, that women are born vulguivaguous, that is to say, are 
born enjoying the advantages of other female animals and belonging, like them and without 
exception, to all males; such were, without any doubt, both the primary laws of Nature and 
the only institutions of those earliest societies into which men gathered. Self-interest, 
egoism, and love degraded these primitive attitudes, at once so simple and so natural; one 

thought oneself enriched by taking a woman to wife, and with her the goods of her family: 
there we find satisfied the first two feelings I have just indicated; still more often, this 
woman was taken by force, and thereby one became attached to her— there we find the other 
of the motives in action, and in every case, injustice. 

Never may an act of possession be exercised upon a free being; the exclusive possession of 
a woman is no less unjust than the possession of slaves; all men are born free, all have equal 
rights: never should we lose sight of those principles; according to which never may there be 
granted to one sex the legitimate right to lay monopolizing hands upon the other, and never 
may one of these sexes, or classes, arbitrarily possess the other. Similarly, a woman existing 
in the purity of Nature's laws cannot allege, as justification for refusing herself to someone 
who desires her, the love she bears another, because such a response is based upon exclusion, 
and no man may be excluded from the having of a woman as of the moment it is clear she 
definitely belongs to all men. The act of possession can only be exercised upon a chattel or an 
animal, never upon an individual who resembles us, and all the ties which can bind a woman 
to a man are quite as unjust as illusory. 

If then it becomes incontestable that we have received from Nature the right 
indiscriminately to express our wishes to all women, it likewise becomes incontestable that 
we have the right to compel their submission, not exclusively, for I should then be 
contradicting myself, but temporarily. 15 It cannot be denied that we have the right to decree 
laws that compel woman to yield to the flames of him who would have her; violence itself 
being one of that right's effects, we can employ it lawfully. Indeed! has Nature not proven 
that we have that right, by bestowing upon us the strength needed to bend women to our 

It is in vain women seek to bring to their defense either modesty or their attachment to 
other men; these illusory grounds are worthless; earlier, we saw how contemptible and 
factitious is the sentiment of modesty. Love, which may be termed the soul's madness, is no 
more a title by which their constancy may be justified: love, satisfying two persons only, the 
beloved and the loving, cannot serve the happiness of others, and it is for the sake of the 
happiness of everyone, and not for an egotistical and privileged happiness, that women have 
been given to us. All men therefore have an equal right of enjoyment of all women; therefore, 
there is no man who, in keeping with natural law, may lay claim to a unique and personal 
right over a woman. The law which will oblige them to prostitute themselves, as often and in 
any manner we wish, in the houses of debauchery we referred to a moment ago, and which 
will coerce them if they balk, punish them if they shirk or dawdle, is thus one of the most 
equitable of laws, against which there can be no sane or rightful complaint. 

A man who would like to enjoy whatever woman or girl will henceforth be able, if the laws 
you promulgate are just, to have her summoned at once to duty at one of the houses; and 
there, under the supervision of the matrons of that temple of Venus, she will be surrendered 
to him, to satisfy, humbly and with submission, all the fancies in which he will be pleased to 
indulge with her, however strange or irregular they may be, since there is no extravagance 
which is not in Nature, none which she does not acknowledge as her own. There remains but 
to fix the woman's age; now, I maintain it cannot be fixed without restricting the freedom of a 
man who desires a girl of any given age. 

He who has the right to eat the fruit of a tree may assuredly pluck it ripe or green, 
according to the inspiration of his taste. But, it will be objected, there is an age when the 
man's proceedings would be decidedly harmful to the girl's well-being. This consideration is 
utterly without value; once you concede me the proprietary right of enjoyment, that right is 

independent of the effects enjoyment produces; from this moment on, it becomes one, 
whether this enjoyment be beneficial or damaging to the object which must submit itself to 
me. Have I not already proven that it is legitimate to force the woman's will in this 
connection? and that immediately she excites the desire to enjoy she has got to expose 
herself to this enjoyment, putting all egotistical sentiments quite aside? The issue of her 
well-being, I repeat, is irrelevant. As soon as concern for this consideration threatens to 
detract from or enfeeble the enjoyment of him who desires her, and who has the right to 
appropriate her, this consideration for age ceases to exist; for what the object may experience, 
condemned by Nature and by the law to slake momentarily the other's thirst, is nothing to 
the point; in this study, we are only interested in what agrees with him who desires. But we 
will redress the balance. 

Yes, we will redress it; doubtless we ought to. These women we have just so cruelly 
enslaved— there is no denying we must recompense them, and I come now to the second 
question I proposed to answer. 

If we admit, as we have just done, that all women ought to be subjugated to our desires, we 
may certainly allow then ample satisfaction of theirs. Our laws must be favorable to their 
fiery temperament. It is absurd to locate both their honor and their virtue in the antinatural 
strength they employ to resist the penchants with which they have been far more profusely 
endowed than we; this injustice of manners is rendered more flagrant still since we contrive 
at once to weaken them by seduction, and then to punish them for yielding to all the efforts 
we have made to provoke their fall. All the absurdity of our manners, it seems to me, is 
graven in this shocking paradox, and this brief outline alone ought to awaken us to the 
urgency of exchanging them for manners more pure. 

I say then that women, having been endowed with considerably more violent penchants 
for carnal pleasure than we, will be able to give themselves over to it wholeheartedly, 
absolutely free of all encumbering hymeneal ties, of all false notions of modesty, absolutely 
restored to a state of Nature; I want laws permitting them to give themselves to as many men 
as they see fit; I would have them accorded the enjoyment of all sexes and, as in the case of 
men, the enjoyment of all parts of the body; and under the special clause prescribing their 
surrender to all who desire them, there must be subjoined another guaranteeing them a 
similar freedom to enjoy all they deem worthy to satisfy them. 

What, I demand to know, what dangers are there in this license? Children who will lack 
fathers? Ha! what can that matter in a republic where every individual must have no other 
dam than the nation, where everyone born is the motherland's child. And how much more 
they will cherish her, they who, never having known any but her, will comprehend from birth 
that it is from her alone all must be expected. Do not suppose you are fashioning good 
republicans so long as children, who ought to belong solely to the republic, remain immured 
in their families. By extending to the family, to a restricted number of persons, the portion of 
affection they ought to distribute amongst their brothers, they inevitably adopt those 
persons' sometimes very harmful prejudices; such children's opinions, their thoughts are 
particularized, malformed, and the virtues of a Man of the State become completely 
inaccessible to them. Finally abandoning their heart altogether to those by whom they have 
been given breath, they have no devotion left for what will cause them to mature, to 
understand, and to shine, as if these latter blessings were not more important than the 
former! If there is the greatest disadvantage in thus letting children imbibe interests from 
their family often in sharp disagreement with those of their country, there is then the most 
excellent argument for separating them from their family; and are they not naturally weaned 

away by the means I suggest, since in absolutely destroying all marital bonds, there are no 
longer born, as fruits of the woman's pleasure, anything but children to whom knowledge of 
their father is absolutely forbidden, and with that the possibility of belonging to only one 
family, instead of being, as they must be, purely les enfants de lapatrie. 

There will then be houses intended for women's libertinage and, like the men's, under the 
government's protection; in these establishments there will be furnished all the individuals 
of either sex women could desire, and the more constantly they frequent these places the 
higher they will be esteemed. There is nothing so barbarous or so ludicrous as to have 
identified their honor and their virtue with the resistance women show the desires Nature 
implants in them, and which continually inflame those who are hypocrite enough to pass 
censure on them. From the most tender age, 16 a girl released from her paternal fetters, no 
longer having anything to preserve for marriage (completely abolished by the wise laws I 
advocate), and superior to the prejudices which in former times imprisoned her sex, will 
therefore, in the houses created for the purpose, be able to indulge in everything to which her 
constitution prompts her; she will be received respectfully, copiously satisfied, and, returned 
once again into society, she will be able to tell of the pleasures she tasted quite as publicly as 
today she speaks of a ball or promenade. O charming sex, you will be free: as do men, you will 
enjoy all the pleasures of which Nature makes a duty, from not one will you be withheld. 
Must the diviner half of humankind be laden with irons by the other? Ah, break those irons; 
Nature wills it. For a bridle have nothing but your inclinations, for laws only your desires, for 
morality Nature's alone; languish no longer under brutal prejudices which wither your 
charms and hold captive the divine impulses of your hearts; 17 like us, you are free, the field of 
action whereon one contends for Venus' favors is as open to you as it is to us; have no fear of 
absurd reproaches; pedantry and superstition are things of the past; no longer will you be 
seen to blush at your charming delinquencies; crowned with myrtle and roses, the esteem we 
conceive for you will be henceforth in direct proportion to the scale you give your 

What has just been said ought doubtless to dispense us from examining adultery; 
nevertheless, let's cast a glance upon it, however nonexistent it be in the eyes of the laws I am 
establishing. To what point was it not ridiculous in our former institutions to consider 
adultery criminal! Were there anything absurd in the world, very surely it is the timelessness 
ascribed to conjugal relations; it appears to me it is but necessary to scrutinize, or sense the 
weight of, those bonds in order to cease to view as wicked the act which lightens them; 
Nature, as we remarked recently, having supplied women with a temper more ardent, with a 
sensibility more profound, than she awarded persons of the other sex, it is unquestionably for 
women that the marital contract proves more onerous. 

Tender women, you ablaze with love's fire, compensate yourselves now, and do so boldly 
and unafraid; persuade yourselves that there can exist no evil in obedience to Nature's 
promptings, that it is not for one man she created you, but to please them all, without 
discrimination. Let no anxiety inhibit you. Imitate the Greek republicans; never did the 
philosophers whence they had their laws contrive to make adultery a crime for them, and 
nearly all authorized disorderliness among women. Thomas More proves in his Utopia that it 
becomes women to surrender themselves to debauchery, and that great man's ideas were not 
always pure dreams. 18 

Amongst the Tartars, the more profligate a woman, the more she was honored; about her 
neck she publicly wore a certain jewelry attesting to her impudicity, and those who were not 

at all decorated were not at all admired. In Peru, families cede their wives and daughters to 
the visiting traveler; they are rented at so much the day, like horses, or carriages! Volumes, 
finally, would not suffice to demonstrate that lewd behavior has never been held criminal 
amongst the illuminated peoples of the earth. Every philosopher knows full well it is solely to 
the Christian impostors we are indebted for having puffed it up into crime. The priests had 
excellent cause to forbid us lechery: this injunction, by reserving to them acquaintance with 
and absolution for these private sins, gave them an incredible ascendancy over women, and 
opened up to them a career of lubricity whose scope knew no limits. We know only too well 
how they took advantage of it and how they would again abuse their powers, were they not 
hopelessly discredited. 

Is incest more dangerous? Hardly. It loosens family ties and the citizen has that much 
more love to lavish on his country; the primary laws of Nature dictate it to us, our feelings 
vouch for the fact; and nothing is so enjoyable as an object we have coveted over the years. 
The most primitive institutions smiled upon incest; it is found in society's origins: it was 
consecrated in every religion, every law encouraged it. If we traverse the world we will find 
incest everywhere established. The blacks of the Ivory Coast and Gabon prostitute their wives 
to their own children; in Judah, the eldest son must marry his father's wife; the people of 
Chile lie indifferently with their sisters, their daughters, and marry mother and daughter at 
the same time. I would venture, in a word, that incest ought to be every government's law— 
every government whose basis is fraternity. How is it that reasonable men were able to carry 
absurdity to the point of believing that the enjoyment of one's mother, sister, or daughter 
could ever be criminal? Is it not, I ask, an abominable view wherein it is made to appear a 
crime for a man to place higher value upon the enjoyment of an object to which natural 
feeling draws him close? One might just as well say that we are forbidden to love too much 
the individuals Nature enjoins us to love best, and that the more she gives us a hunger for 
some object, the more she orders us away from it. These are absurd paradoxes; only people 
bestialized by superstition can believe or uphold them. The community of women I am 
establishing necessarily leading to incest, there remains little more to say about a supposed 
misdemeanor whose inexistence is too plainly evident to warrant further pursuit of the 
matter, and we shall turn our attention to rape, which at first glance seems to be, of all 
libertinage's excesses, the one which is most dearly established as being wrong, by reason of 
the outrage it appears to cause. It is certain, however, that rape, an act so very rare and so 
very difficult to prove, wrongs one's neighbor less than theft, since the latter is destructive to 
property, the former merely damaging to it. Beyond that, what objections have you to the 
ravisher? What will you say, when he replies to you that, as a matter of fact, the injury he has 
committed is trifling indeed, since he has done no more than place a little sooner the object 
he has abused in the very state in which she would soon have been put by marriage and love. 

But sodomy, that alleged crime which will draw the fire of heaven upon cities addicted to 
it, is sodomy not a monstrous deviation whose punishment could not be severe enough? Ah, 
sorrowful it is to have to reproach our ancestors for the judiciary murders in which, upon this 
head, they dared indulge themselves. We wonder that savagery could ever reach the point 
where you condemn to death an unhappy person all of whose crime amounts to not sharing 
your tastes. One shudders to think that scarce forty years ago the legislators' absurd thinking 
had not evolved beyond this point. Console yourselves, citizens; such absurdities are to cease: 
the intelligence of your lawmakers will answer for it. Thoroughly enlightened upon this 
weakness occurring in a few men, people deeply sense today that such error cannot be 
criminal, and that Nature, who places such slight importance upon the essence that flows in 

our loins, can scarcely be vexed by our choice when we are pleased to vent it into this or that 

What single crime can exist here? For no one will wish to maintain that all the parts of the 
body do not resemble each other, that there are some which are pure, and others defiled; but, 
as it is unthinkable such nonsense be advanced seriously, the only possible crime would 
consist in the waste of semen. Well, is it likely that this semen is so precious to Nature that 
its loss is necessarily criminal? Were that so, would she every day institute those losses? and 
is it not to authorize them to permit them in dreams, to permit them in the act of taking one's 
pleasure with a pregnant woman? Is it possible to imagine Nature having allowed us the 
possibility of committing a crime that would outrage her? Is it possible that she consent to 
the destruction by man of her own pleasures, and to his thereby becoming stronger than she? 
It is unheard of— into what an abyss of folly one is hurled when, in reasoning, one abandons 
the aid of reason's torch! Let us abide in our unshakable assurance that it is as easy to enjoy a 
woman in one manner as in another, that it makes absolutely no difference whether one 
enjoys a girl or a boy, and as soon as it is clearly understood that no inclinations or tastes can 
exist in us save the ones we have from Nature, that she is too wise and too consistent to have 
given us any which could ever offend her. 

The penchant for sodomy is the result of physical formation, to which we contribute 
nothing and which we cannot alter. At the most tender age, some children reveal that 
penchant, and it is never corrected in them. Sometimes it is the fruit of satiety; but even in 
this case, is it less Nature's doing? Regardless of how it is viewed, it is her work, and, in every 
instance, what she inspires must be respected by men. If, were one to take an exact inventory, 
it should come out that this taste is infinitely more affecting than the other, that the 
pleasures resulting from it are far more lively, and that for this reason its exponents are a 
thousand times more numerous than its enemies, would it not then be possible to conclude 
that, far from affronting Nature, this vice serves her intentions, and that she is less delighted 
by our procreation than we so foolishly believe? Why, as we travel about the world, how 
many peoples do we not see holding women in contempt! Many are the men who strictly 
avoid employing them for anything but the having of the child necessary to replace them. The 
communal aspect of life in republics always renders this vice more frequent in that form of 
society; but it is not dangerous. Would the Greek legislators have introduced it into their 
republics had they thought it so? Quite the contrary; they deemed it necessary to a warlike 
race. Plutarch speaks with enthusiasm of the battalion of lovers: for many a year they alone 
defended Greece's freedom. The vice reigned amongst comrades-in-arms, and cemented their 
unity. The greatest of men lean toward sodomy. At the time it was discovered, the whole of 
America was found inhabited by people of this taste. In Louisiana, amongst the Illinois, 
Indians in feminine garb prostituted themselves as courtesans. The blacks of Benguela 
publicly keep men; nearly all the seraglios of Algiers are today exclusively filled with young 
boys. Not content to tolerate love for young boys, the Thebans made it mandatory; the 
philosopher of Chaeronea prescribed sodomy as the surest way to a youth's affection. 

We know to what extent it prevailed in Rome, where they had public places in which young 
boys, costumed as girls, and girls as boys, prostituted themselves. In their letters, Martial, 
Catullus, Tibullus, Horace, and Virgil wrote to men as though to their mistresses; and we read 
in Plutarch 19 that women must in no way figure in men's love. The Amasians of Crete used to 
abduct boys, and their initiation was distinguished by the most singular ceremonies. When 
they were taken with love for one, they notified the parents upon what day the ravisher 
wished to carry him off; the youth put up some resistance if his lover failed to please him; in 

the contrary case, they went off together, and the seducer restored him to his family as soon 
as he had made use of him; for in this passion as in that for women, one always has too much 
when one has had enough. Strabo informs us that on this very island, seraglios were peopled 
with boys only; they were prostituted openly. 

Is one more authority required to prove how useful this vice is in a republic? Let us lend 
an ear to Jerome the Peripatetic: "The love of youths," says he, "spread throughout all of 
Greece, for it instilled in us strength and courage, and thus stood us in good stead when we 
drove the tyrants out; conspiracies were formed amongst lovers, and they were readier to 
endure torture than denounce their accomplices; such patriots sacrificed everything to the 
State's prosperity; it was beheld as a certain thing, that these attachments steadied the 
republic, women were declaimed against, and to entertain connections with such creatures 
was a frailty reserved to despots." Pederasty has always been the vice of warrior races. From 
Caesar we learn that the Gauls were to an extraordinary degree given to it. The wars fought to 
sustain the republic brought about the separation of the two sexes, and hence the 
propagation of the vice, and when its consequences, so useful to the State, were recognized, 
religion speedily blessed it. That the Romans sanctified the amours of Jupiter and Ganymede 
is well known. Sextus Empiricus assures us that this caprice was compulsory amongst the 
Persians. At last, the women, jealous and contemned, offered to render their husbands the 
same service they received from young boys; some few men made the experiment, and 
returned to their former habits, finding the illusion impossible. The Turks, greatly inclined 
toward this depravity Mohammed consecrated in the Koran, were nevertheless convinced 
that a very young virgin could well enough be substituted for a youth, and rarely did they 
grow to womanhood without having passed through the experience. Sextus Quintus and 
Sanchez allowed this debauch; the latter even undertook to show it was of use to procreation, 
and that a child created after this preliminary exercise was infinitely better constituted 
thanks to it. Finally, women found restitution by turning to each other. This latter fantasy 
doubtless has no more disadvantages than the other, since nothing comes of the refusal to 
reproduce, and since the means of those who have a bent for reproduction are powerful 
enough for reproduction's adversaries never to be able to harm population. Amongst the 
Greeks, this female perversion was also supported by policy: the result of it was that, finding 
each other sufficient, women sought less communication with men and their detrimental 
influence in the republic's affairs was thus held to a minimum. Lucian informs us of what 
progress this license promoted, and it is not without interest we see it exemplified in Sappho. 

In fine, these are perfectly inoffensive manias; were women to carry them even further, 
were they to go to the point of caressing monsters and animals, as the example of every race 
teaches us, no ill could possibly result therefrom, because corruption of manners, often of 
prime utility to a government, cannot in any sense harm it, and we must demand enough 
wisdom and enough prudence of our legislators to be entirely sure that no law will emanate 
from them that would repress perversions which, being determined by constitution and being 
inseparable from physical structure, cannot render the person in whom they are present any 
more guilty than the person Nature created deformed. 

In the second category of man's crimes against his brethren, there is left to us only murder 
to examine, and then we will move on to man's duties toward himself. Of all the offenses 
man may commit against his fellows, murder is without question the crudest, since it 
deprives man of the single asset he has received from Nature, and its loss is irreparable. 
Nevertheless, at this stage several questions arise, leaving aside the wrong murder does him 
who becomes its victim. 

1. As regards the laws of Nature only, is this act really criminal? 

2. Is it criminal with what regards the laws of politics? 

3. Is it harmful to society? 

4. What must be a republican government's attitude toward it? 

5. Finally, must murder be repressed by murder? 

Each of these questions will be treated separately; the subject is important enough to 
warrant thorough consideration; our ideas touching murder may surprise for their boldness. 
But what does that matter? Have we not acquired the right to say anything? The time has 
come for the ventilation of great verities; men today will not be content with less. The time 
has come for error to disappear; that blindfold must fall beside the heads of kings. From 
Nature's point of view, is murder a crime? That is the first question posed. 

It is probable that we are going to humiliate man's pride by lowering him again to the rank 
of all of Nature's other creatures, but the philosopher does not flatter small human vanities; 
ever in burning pursuit of truth, he discerns it behind stupid notions of pride, lays it bare, 
elaborates upon it, and intrepidly shows it to the astonished world. 

What is man? and what difference is there between him and other plants, between him 
and all the other animals of the world? None, obviously. Fortuitously placed, like them, upon 
this globe, he is born like them; like them, he reproduces, rises, and falls; like them he arrives 
at old age and sinks like them into nothingness at the close of the life span Nature assigns 
each species of animal, in accordance with its organic construction. Since the parallels are so 
exact that the inquiring eye of philosophy is absolutely unable to perceive any grounds for 
discrimination, there is then just as much evil in killing animals as men, or just as little, and 
whatever be the distinctions we make, they will be found to stem from our pride's prejudices, 
than which, unhappily, nothing is more absurd. Let us all the same press on to the question. 
You cannot deny it is one and the same, to destroy a man or a beast; but is not the destruction 
of all living animals decidedly an evil, as the Pythagoreans believed, and as they who dwell on 
the banks of Ganges yet believe? Before answering that, we remind the reader that we are 
examining the question only in terms of Nature and in relation to her; later on, we will 
envisage it with reference to men. 

Now then, what value can Nature set upon individuals whose making costs her neither the 
least trouble nor the slightest concern? The worker values his work according to the labor it 
entails and the time spent creating it. Does man cost Nature anything? And, under the 
supposition that he does, does he cost her more than an ape or an elephant? I go further: 
what are the regenerative materials used by Nature? Of what are composed the beings which 
come into life? Do not the three elements of which they are formed result from the prior 
destruction of other bodies? If all individuals were possessed of eternal life, would it not 
become impossible for Nature to create any new ones? If Nature denies eternity to beings, it 
follows that their destruction is one of her laws. Now, once we observe that destruction is so 
useful to her that she absolutely cannot dispense with it, and that she cannot achieve her 
creations without drawing from the store of destruction which death prepares for her, from 
this moment onward the idea of annihilation which we attach to death ceases to be real; there 
is no more veritable annihilation; what we call the end of the living animal is no longer a true 
finis, but a simple transformation, a transmutation of matter, what every modern 

philosopher acknowledges as one of Nature's fundamental laws. According to these 
irrefutable principles, death is hence no more than a change of form, an imperceptible 
passage from one existence into another, and that is what Pythagoras called metempsychosis. 

These truths once admitted, I ask whether it can ever be proposed that destruction is a 
crime? Will you dare tell me, with the design of preserving your absurd illusions, that 
transmutation is destruction? No, surely not; for, to prove that, it would be necessary to 
demonstrate matter inert for an instant, for a moment in repose. Well, you will never detect 
any such moment. Little animals are formed immediately a large animal expires, and these 
little animals' lives are simply one of the necessary effects determined by the large animal's 
temporary sleep. Given this, will you dare suggest that one pleases Nature more than 
another? To support that contention, you would have to prove what cannot be proven: that 
elongated or square are more useful, more agreeable to Nature than oval or triangular 
shapes; you would have to prove that, with what regards Nature's sublime scheme, a sluggard 
who fattens in idleness is more useful than the horse, whose service is of such importance, or 
than a steer, whose body is so precious that there is no part of it which is not useful; you 
would have to say that the venomous serpent is more necessary than the faithful dog. 

Now, as not one of these systems can be upheld, one must hence consent unreservedly to 
acknowledge our inability to annihilate Nature's works; in light of the certainty that the only 
thing we do when we give ourselves over to destroying is merely to effect an alteration in 
forms which does not extinguish life, it becomes beyond human powers to prove that there 
may exist anything criminal in the alleged destruction of a creature, of whatever age, sex, or 
species you may suppose it. Led still further in our series of inferences proceeding one from 
the other, we affirm that the act you commit in juggling the forms of Nature's different 
productions is of advantage to her, since thereby you supply her the primary material for her 
reconstructions, tasks which would be compromised were you to desist from destroying. 

Well, let her do the destroying, they tell you; one ought to let her do it, of course, but they 
are Nature's impulses man follows when he indulges in homicide; it is Nature who advises 
him, and the man who destroys his fellow is to Nature what are the plague and famine, like 
them sent by her hand which employs every possible means more speedily to obtain of 
destruction this primary matter, itself absolutely essential to her works. 

Let us deign for a moment to illumine our spirit by philosophy's sacred flame; what other 
than Nature's voice suggests to us personal hatreds, revenges, wars, in a word, all those 
causes of perpetual murder? Now, if she incites us to murderous acts, she has need of them; 
that once grasped, how may we suppose ourselves guilty in her regard when we do nothing 
more than obey her intentions? 

But that is more than what is needed to convince any enlightened reader, that for murder 
ever to be an outrage to Nature is impossible. 

Is it a political crime? We must avow, on the contrary, that it is, unhappily, merely one of 
policy's and politics' greatest instruments. Is it not by dint of murders that France is free 
today? Needless to say, here we are referring to the murders occasioned by war, not to the 
atrocities committed by plotters and rebels; the latter, destined to the public's execration, 
have only to be recollected to arouse forever general horror and indignation. What study, 
what science, has greater need of murder's support than that which tends only to deceive, 
whose sole end is the expansion of one nation at another's expense? Are wars, the unique 
fruit of this political barbarism, anything but the means whereby a nation is nourished, 
whereby it is strengthened, whereby it is buttressed? And what is war if not the science of 
destruction? A strange blindness in man, who publicly teaches the art of killing, who rewards 

the most accomplished killer, and who punishes him who for some particular reason does 
away with his enemy! Is it not high time errors so savage be repaired? 

Is murder then a crime against society? But how could that reasonably be imagined? What 
difference does it make to this murderous society, whether it have one member more, or 
less? Will its laws, its manners, its customs be vitiated? Has an individual's death ever had 
any influence upon the general mass? And after the loss of the greatest battle, what am I 
saying? after the obliteration of half the world— or, if one wishes, of the entire world— would 
the little number of survivors, should there be any, notice even the faintest difference in 
things? No, alas. Nor would Nature notice any either, and the stupid pride of man, who 
believes everything created for him, would be dashed indeed, after the total extinction of the 
human species, were it to be seen that nothing in Nature had changed, and that the stars' 
flight had not for that been retarded. Let us continue. 

What must the attitude of a warlike and republican state be toward murder? 

Dangerous it should certainly be, either to cast discredit upon the act, or to punish it. 
Republican mettle calls for a touch of ferocity: if he grows soft, if his energy slackens in him, 
the republican will be subjugated in a trice. A most unusual thought comes to mind at this 
point, but if it is audacious it is also true, and I will mention it. A nation that begins by 
governing itself as a republic will only be sustained by virtues because, in order to attain the 
most, one must always start with the least. But an already old and decayed nation which 
courageously casts off the yoke of its monarchical government in order to adopt a republican 
one, will only be maintained by many crimes; for it is criminal already, and if it were to wish 
to pass from crime to virtue, that is to say, from a violent to a pacific, benign condition, it 
should fall into an inertia whose result would soon be its certain ruin. What happens to the 
tree you would transplant from a soil full of vigor to a dry and sandy plain? All intellectual 
ideas are so greatly subordinate to Nature's physical aspect that the comparisons supplied us 
by agriculture will never deceive us in morals. 

Savages, the most independent of men, the nearest to Nature, daily indulge in murder 
which amongst them goes unpunished. In Sparta, in Lacedaemon, they hunted Helots, just as 
we in France go on partridge shoots. The freest of people are they who are most friendly to 
murder: in Mindanao, a man who wishes to commit a murder is raised to the rank of warrior 
brave, he is straightway decorated with a turban; amongst the Caraguos, one must have killed 
seven men to obtain the honors of this headdress: the inhabitants of Borneo believe all those 
they put to death will serve them when they themselves depart life; devout Spaniards made a 
vow to St. James of Galicia to kill a dozen Americans every day; in the kingdom of Tangut, 
there is selected a strong and vigorous young man: on certain days of the year he is allowed to 
kill whomever he encounters! Was there ever a people better disposed to murder than the 
Jews? One sees it in every guise, upon every page of their history. 

Now and again, China's emperor and mandarins take measures to stir up a revolt amongst 
the people, in order to derive, from these maneuvers, the right to transform them into 
horrible slaughters. May that soft and effeminate people rise against their tyrants; the latter 
will be massacred in their turn, and with much greater justice; murder, adopted always, 
always necessary, will have but changed its victims; it has been the delight of some, and will 
become the felicity of others. 

An infinite number of nations tolerates public assassinations; they are freely permitted in 
Genoa, Venice, Naples, and throughout Albania; at Kachoa on the San Domingo River, 
murderers, undisguised and unashamedly, upon your orders and before your very eyes cut 
the throat of the person you have pointed out to them; Hindus take opium to encourage 

themselves to murder; and then, rushing out into the street, they butcher everyone they 
meet; English travelers have found this idiosyncrasy in Batavia, too. 

What people were at once greater and more bloodthirsty than the Romans, and what 
nation longer preserved its splendor and freedom? The gladiatorial spectacles fed its bravery, 
it became warlike through the habit of making a game of murder. Twelve or fifteen hundred 
victims filled the circus' arena every day, and there the women, crueler than the men, dared 
demand that the dying fall gracefully and be sketched while still in death's throes. The 
Romans moved from that to the pleasures of seeing dwarfs cut each other to pieces; and 
when the Christian cult, then infecting the world, came to persuade men there was evil in 
killing one another, the tyrants immediately enchained that people, and everyone's heroes 
became their toys. 

Everywhere, in short, it was rightly believed that the murderer— that is to say, the man 
who stifled his sensibilities to the point of killing his fellow man, and of defying public or 
private vengeance— everywhere, I say, it was thought such a man could only be very 
courageous, and consequently very precious to a warlike or republican community. We may 
discover certain nations which, yet more ferocious, could only satisfy themselves by 
immolating children, and very often their own, and we will see these actions universally 
adopted, and upon occasion even made part of the law. Several savage tribes kill their 
children immediately they are born. Mothers, on the banks of the Orinoco, firm in the belief 
their daughters were born only to be miserable, since their fate was to become wives in this 
country where women were found insufferable, immolated them as soon as they were 
brought into the light. In Taprobane and in the kingdom of Sopit, all deformed children were 
immolated by their own parents. If their children are born on certain days of the week, the 
women of Madagascar expose them to wild beasts. In the republics of Greece, all the children 
who came into the world were carefully examined, and if they were found not to conform to 
the requirements determined by the republic's defense, they were sacrificed on the spot: in 
those days, it was not deemed essential to build richly furnished and endowed houses for the 
preservation of mankind's scum. 20 Up until the transferal of the seat of the Empire, all the 
Romans who were not disposed to feed their offspring flung them upon the dung heaps. The 
ancient legislators had no scruple about condemning children to death, and never did one of 
their codes repress the rights of a father over his family. Aristotle urged abortion; and those 
ancient republicans, filled with enthusiasm, with patriotic fervor, failed to appreciate this 
commiseration for the individual person that one finds in modern nations: they loved their 
children less, but their country more. In all the cities of China, one finds every morning an 
incredible number of children abandoned in the streets; a dung cart picks them up at dawn, 
and they are tossed into a moat; often, midwives themselves disencumbered mothers by 
instantly plunging their issue into vats of boiling water, or by throwing it into the river. In 
Peking, infants were put into little reed baskets that were left on the canals; every day, these 
canals were skimmed clean, and the famous traveler Duhalde calculates as above thirty 
thousand the number of infants collected in the course of each search. 

It cannot be denied that it is extraordinarily necessary, extremely politic to erect a dike 
against overpopulation in a republican system; for entirely contrary reasons, the birth rate 
must be encouraged in a monarchy; there, the tyrants being rich only through the number of 
their slaves, they assuredly have to have men; but do not doubt for a minute that 
populousness is a genuine vice in a republican government. However, it is not necessary to 
butcher people to restrain it, as our modern decemvirs used to say; it is but a question of not 
leaving it the means of extending beyond the limits its happiness prescribes. Beware of too 

great a multiplication in a race whose every member is sovereign, and be certain that 
revolutions are never but the effect of a too numerous population. If, for the State's splendor, 
you accord your warriors the right to destroy men, for the preservation of that same State 
grant also unto each individual the right to give himself over as much as he pleases, since this 
he may do without offending Nature, to ridding himself of the children he is unable to feed, 
or to whom the government cannot look for assistance; in the same way, grant him the right 
to rid himself, at his own risk and peril, of all enemies capable of harming him, because the 
result of all these acts, in themselves of perfect inconsequence, will be to keep your 
population at a moderate size, and never large enough to overthrow your regime. Let the 
monarchists say a State is great only by reason of its extreme population: this State will 
forever be poor, if its population surpasses the means by which it can subsist, and it will 
flourish always if, kept trimly within its proper limits, it can make traffic of its superfluity. Do 
you not prune the tree when it has overmany branches? and do not too many shoots weaken 
the trunk? Any system which deviates from these principles is an extravagance whose abuses 
would conduct us directly to the total subversion of the edifice we have just raised with so 
much trouble; but it is not at the moment the man reaches maturity one must destroy him in 
order to reduce population. It is unjust to cut short the days of a well-shaped person; it is not 
unjust, I say, to prevent the arrival in the world of a being who will certainly be useless to it. 
The human species must be purged from the cradle; what you foresee as useless to society is 
what must be stricken out of it; there you have the only reasonable means to the 
diminishment of a population, whose excessive size is, as we have just proven, the source of 
certain trouble. 

The time has come to sum up. 

Must murder be repressed by murder? Surely not. Let us never impose any other penalty 
upon the murderer than the one he may risk from the vengeance of the friends or family of 
him he has killed. "I grant you pardon," said Louis XV to Charolais who, to divert himself, had 
just killed a man; "but I also pardon whoever will kill you." All the bases of the law against 
murderers may be found in that sublime motto. 21 

Briefly, murder is a horror, but an often necessary horror, never criminal, which it is 
essential to tolerate in a republican State. I have made it clear the entire universe has given 
an example of it; but ought it be considered a deed to be punished by death? They who 
respond to the following dilemma will have answered the question: 

Is it or is it not a crime? 

If it is not, why make laws for its punishment? And if it is, by what barbarous logic do you, 
to punish it, duplicate it by another crime? 

We have now but to speak of man's duties toward himself. As the philosopher only adopts 
such duties in the measure they conduce to his pleasure or to his preservation, it is futile to 
recommend their practice to him, still more futile to threaten him with penalties if he fails to 
adopt them. 

The only offense of this order man can commit is suicide. I will not bother demonstrating 
here the imbecility of the people who make of this act a crime; those who might have any 
doubts upon the matter are referred to Rousseau's famous letter. Nearly all early 
governments, through policy or religion, authorized suicide. Before the Areopagites, the 
Athenians explained their reasons for self-destruction; then they stabbed themselves. Every 
Greek government tolerated suicide; it entered into the ancient legislators' scheme; one 
killed oneself in public, and one made of one's death a spectacle of magnificence. 

The Roman Republic encouraged suicide; those so greatly celebrated instances of devotion 
to country were nothing other than suicides. When Rome was taken by the Gauls, the most 
illustrious senators consecrated themselves to death; as we imitate that spirit, we adopt the 
same virtues. During the campaign of '92, a soldier, grief-stricken to find himself unable to 
follow his comrades to the Jemappes affair, took his own life. Keeping ourselves at all times 
to the high standard of those proud republicans, we will soon surpass their virtue: it is the 
government that makes the man. Accustomed for so long to despotism, our courage was 
utterly crippled; despotism depraved our manners; we are being reborn; it will shortly be seen 
of what sublime actions the French genius and character are capable when they are free; let 
us maintain, at the price of our fortunes and our lives, this liberty which has already cost us 
so many victims, of whom we regret not one if we attain our objective; every one of them 
sacrificed himself voluntarily; let us not permit their blood to have been shed in vain; but 
union . . . union, or we will lose the fruit of all our struggles. Upon the victories we have just 
achieved let us seat excellent laws; our former legislators, still slaves of the despot we have 
just slaughtered, had given us nothing, but laws worthy of that tyrant they continued to 
reverence: let us re-do their work, let us consider that it is at last for republicans we are going 
to labor; may our laws be gentle, like the people they must rule. 

In pointing out, as I have just done, the nullity, the indifference of an infinite number of 
actions our ancestors, seduced by a false religion, beheld as criminal, I reduce our labor to 
very little. Let us create few laws, but let them be good; rather than multiplying hindrances, it 
is purely a question of giving an indestructible quality to the law we employ, of seeing to it 
that the laws we promulgate have, as ends, nothing but the citizen's tranquillity, his 
happiness, and the glory of the republic. But, Frenchmen, after having driven the enemy from 
your lands, I should not like your zeal to broadcast your principles to lead you further afield; 
it is only with fire and steel you will be able to carry them to the four corners of the earth. 
Before taking upon yourselves such resolutions, remember the unsuccess of the crusades. 
When the enemy will have fled across the Rhine, heed me, guard your frontiers, and stay at 
home behind them. Revive your trade, restore energy and markets to your manufacturing; 
cause your arts to flourish again, encourage agriculture, both so necessary in a government 
such as yours, and whose aim must be to provide for everyone without standing in need of 
anyone. Leave the thrones of Europe to crumble of themselves: your example, your 
prosperity will soon send them flying, without your having to meddle in the business at all. 

Invincible within, and by your administration and your laws a model to every race, there 
will not be a single government which will not strive to imitate you, not one which will not be 
honored by your alliance; but if, for the vainglory of establishing your principles outside your 
country, you neglect to care for your own felicity at home, despotism, which is no more than 
asleep, will awake, you will be rent by intestine disorder, you will have exhausted your 
monies and your soldiers, and all that, all that to return to kiss the manacles the tyrants, who 
will have subjugated you during your absence, will impose upon you; all you desire may be 
wrought without leaving your home: let other people observe you happy, and they will rush 
to happiness by the same road you have traced for them. 22 

EUGENIE, to Dolmance— Now, it strikes me as a very solidly composed document, that 
one, and it seems to me in such close agreement with your principles, at least with many of 
them, that I should be tempted to believe you its author. 

DOLMANCE— Indeed my thinking does correspond with some part of these reflections, 

and my discourses— they've proven it to you— even lend to what has just been read to us the 
appearance of a repetition 

EUGENIE— That I did not notice; wise and good words cannot be too often uttered; 
however, I find several amongst these principles a trifle dangerous. 

DOLMANCE— In this world there is nothing dangerous but pity and beneficence; goodness 
is never but a weakness of which the ingratitude and impertinence of the feeble always force 
honest folk to repent. Let a keen observer calculate all of pity's dangers, and let him compare 
them with those of a staunch, resolute severity, and he will see whether the former are not 
the greater. But we are straying, Eugenie; in the interests of your education, let's compress all 
that has just been said into this single word of advice: Never listen to your heart, my child; it 
is the most untrustworthy guide we have received from Nature; with greatest care close it up 
to misfortune's fallacious accents; far better for you to refuse a person whose wretchedness is 
genuine than to run the great risk of giving to a bandit, to an intriguer, or to a caballer: the 
one is of a very slight importance, the other may be of the highest disadvantage. 

LE CHEVALIER— May I be allowed to cast a glance upon the foundations of Dolmance's 
principles? for I would like to try to annihilate them, and may be able to. Ah, how different 
they would be, cruel man, if, stripped of the immense fortune which continually provides you 
with the means to gratify your passions, you were to languish a few years in that crushing 
misfortune out of which your ferocious mind dares to fashion knouts wherewith to lash the 
wretched! Cast a pitying look upon them, and stifle not your soul to the point where the 
piercing cries of need shall never more be heard by you; when your frame, weary from naught 
but pleasure, languorously reposes upon swansdown couches, look ye at those others wasted 
by the drudgeries that support your existence, and at their bed, scarcely more than a straw or 
two for protection against the rude earth whereof, like beasts, they have nothing but the chill 
crust to lie down upon; cast a glance at them while surrounded by succulent meats wherewith 
every day twenty of Comus' students awake your sensuality, cast a glance, I say, at those 
wretches in yonder wood, disputing with wolves the dry soil's bitter root; when the most 
affecting objects of Cythera's temple are with games, charms, laughter led to your impure 
bed, consider that poor luckless fellow stretched out near his grieving wife: content with the 
pleasures he reaps at the breast of tears, he does not even suspect the existence of others; 
look ye at him when you are denying yourself nothing, when you are swimming in the midst 
of glut, in a sea of surfeit; behold him, I say, doggedly lacking even the basic necessities of 
life; regard his disconsolate family, his trembling wife who tenderly divides herself between 
the cares she owes her husband, languishing near her, and those Nature enjoins for love's 
offspring, deprived of the possibility to fulfill any of those duties so sacred unto her sensitive 
heart; if you can do it, without a tremor hear her beg of you the leavings your cruelty refuses 

Barbaric one, are these not at all human beings like you? and if they are of your kind, why 
should you enjoy yourself when they lie dying? Eugenie, Eugenie, never slay the sacred voice 
of Nature in your breast: it is to benevolence it will direct you despite yourself when you 
extricate from out of the fire of passions that absorb it the clear tenor of Nature. Leave 
religious principles far behind you— very well, I approve it; but abandon not the virtues 
sensibility inspires in us; 'twill never be but by practicing them we will taste the sweetest, the 
most exquisite of the soul's delights. A good deed will buy pardon for all your mind's 

depravities, it will soothe the remorse your misconduct will bring to birth and, forming in the 
depths of your conscience a sacred asylum whereunto you will sometimes repair, you will 
find there consolation for the excesses into which your errors will have dragged you. Sister, I 
am young, yes, I am libertine, impious, I am capable of every mental obscenity, but my heart 
remains to me, it is pure and, my friends, it is with it I am consoled for the irregularities of 
this my age. 

DOLMANCE— Yes, Chevalier, you are young, your speeches illustrate it; you are wanting in 
experience; the day will come, and I await it, when you will be seasoned; then, my dear, you 
will no longer speak so well of mankind, for you will have its acquaintance. 'Twas men's 
ingratitude dried out my heart, their perfidy which destroyed in me those baleful virtues for 
which, perhaps, like you, I was also born. Now, if the vices of the one establish these 
dangerous virtues in the other, is it not then to render youth a great service when one 
throttles those virtues in youth at an early hour? Oh, my friend, how you do speak to me of 
remorse! Can remorse exist in the soul of him who recognizes crime in nothing? Let your 
principles weed it out of you if you dread its sting; will it be possible to repent of an action 
with whose indifference you are profoundly penetrated? When you no longer believe evil 
anywhere exists, of what evil will you be able to repent? 

LE CHEVALIER— It is not from the mind remorse comes; rather, 'tis the heart's issue, and 
never will the intellect's sophistries blot out the soul's impulsions. 

DOLMANCE— However, the heart deceives, because it is never anything but the expression 
of the mind's miscalculations; allow the latter to mature and the former will yield in good 
time; we are constantly led astray by false definitions when we wish to reason logically: I 
don't know what the heart is, not I: I only use the word to denote the mind's frailties. One 
single, one unique flame sheds its light in me: when I am whole and well, sound and sane, I 
am never misled by it; when I am old, hypochondriacal, or pusillanimous, it deceives me; in 
which case I tell myself I am sensible, but in truth I am merely weak and timid. Once again, 
Eugenie, I say it to you: be not abused by this perfidious sensibility; be well convinced of it, it 
is nothing but the mind's weakness; one weeps not save when one is afraid, and that is why 
kings are tyrants. Reject, spurn the Chevalier's insidious advice; in telling you to open your 
heart to all of misfortune's imaginary ills, he seeks to fashion for you a host of troubles 
which, not being your own, would soon plunge you into an anguish and that for no purpose. 
Ah, Eugenie, believe me when I tell you that the delights born of apathy are worth much 
more than those you get of your sensibility; the latter can only touch the heart in one sense, 
the other titillates and overwhelms all of one's being. In a word, is it possible to compare 
permissible pleasures with pleasures which, to far more piquant delights, join those 
inestimable joys that come of bursting socially imposed restraints and of the violation of 
every law? 

EUGENIE— You triumph, Dolmance, the laurel belongs to you! The Chevalier's harangue 
did but barely brush my spirit, yours seduces and entirely wins it over. Ah, Chevalier, take my 
advice: speak rather to the passions than to the virtues when you wish to persuade a woman. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, to the Chevalier-Yes, my friend, fuck us to be sure, but let us 
have no sermons from you: you'll not convert us, and you might upset the lessons with which 
we desire to saturate this charming girl's mind. 

EUGENIE— Upset? Oh, no, no; your work is finished; what fools call corruption is by now 
firmly enough established in me to leave not even the hope of a return, and your principles 
are far too thoroughly riven into my heart ever to be destroyed by the Chevalier's casuistries. 

DOLMANCE— She is right, let us not discuss it any longer, Chevalier; you would come off 
poorly in this debate, and we wish nothing from you but excellence. 

LE CHEVALIER— So be it; we are met here for a purpose very different, I know, from the 
one I wished to achieve; let's go directly to that destination, I agree with you; I'll save my 
ethics for others who, less besotted than you, will be in a better way to hear me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yes, dear brother, yes, exactly, give us nothing but your fuck; 
we'll forgo your morals; they are too gentle and mild for roues of our ilk. 

EUGENIE— I greatly fear, Dolmance, that this cruelty you recommend with such warmth 
may somewhat influence your pleasures; I believe I have already remarked something of the 
sort: you are hard when you take your pleasure; and I too might be able to confess to feeling a 

few dispositions to viciousness In order to clear my thoughts on the matter, please do tell 

me with what kind of an eye you view the object that serves your pleasures? 

DOLMANCE— As absolutely null, that is how I view it, my dear; whether it does or does 
not share my enjoyment, whether it feels contentment or whether it doesn't, whether apathy 
or even pain, provided I am happy, the rest is absolutely all the same to me. 

EUGENIE— Why, it is even preferable to have the object experience pain, is it not? 

DOLMANCE— To be sure, 'tis by much to be preferred; I have given you my opinion on the 
matter; this being the case, the repercussion within us is much more pronounced, and much 
more energetically and much more promptly launches the animal spirits in the direction 
necessary to voluptuousness. Explore the seraglios of Africa, those of Asia, those others of 
southern Europe, and discover whether the masters of these celebrated harems are much 
concerned, when their pricks are in the air, about giving pleasure to the individuals they use; 
they give orders, and they are obeyed, they enjoy and no one dares make them answer; they 
are satisfied, and the others retire. Amongst them are those who would punish as a lack of 
respect the audacity of partaking of their pleasure. The king of Acahem pitilessly commands 
to be decapitated the woman who, in his presence, has dared forget herself to the point of 
sharing his pleasure, and not infrequently the king performs the beheading himself. This 
despot, one of Asia's most interesting, is exclusively guarded by women; he never gives them 
orders save by signs; the crudest death is the reward reserved for her who fails to understand 
him, and the tortures are always executed either by his hand or before his eyes. 

All that, Eugenie, is founded entirely upon the principles I have already developed for you. 
What is it one desires when taking one's pleasure? that everything around us be occupied 
with nothing but ourselves, think of naught but of us, care for us only. If the objects we 
employ know pleasure too, you can be very sure they are less concerned for us than they are 
for themselves, and lo! our own pleasure consequently disturbed. There is not a living man 
who does not wish to play the despot when he is stiff: it seems to him his joy is less when 
others appear to have as much as he; by an impulse of pride, very natural at this juncture, he 

would like to be the only one in the world capable of experiencing what he feels: the idea of 
seeing another enjoy as he enjoys reduces him to a kind of equality with that other, which 
impairs the unspeakable charm despotism causes him to feel. 23 'Tis false as well to say there 
is pleasure in affording pleasure to others; that is to serve them, and the man who is erect is 
far from desiring to be useful to anyone. On the contrary, by causing them hurt he 
experiences all the charms a nervous personality relishes in putting its strength to use; 'tis 
then he dominates, is a tyrant; and what a difference is there for the amour proprel Think 
not that it is silent during such episodes. 

The act of enjoyment is a passion which, I confess, subordinates all others to it, but which 
simultaneously unites them. This desire to dominate at this moment is so powerful in Nature 
that one notices it even in animals. See whether those in captivity procreate as do those 
others that are free and wild; the camel carries the matter further still: he will engender no 
more if he does not suppose himself alone: surprise him and, consequently, show him a 
master, and he will fly, will instantly separate himself from his companion. Had it not been 
Nature's intent that man possess this feeling of superiority, she would not have created him 
stronger than the beings she destines to belong to him at those moments. The debility to 
which Nature condemned woman incontestably proves that her design is for man, who then 
more than ever enjoys his strength, to exercise it in all the violent forms that suit him best, 
by means of tortures, if he be so inclined, or worse. Would pleasure's climax be a kind of fury 
were it not the intention of this mother of humankind that behavior during copulation be the 
same as behavior in anger? What well-made man, in a word, what man endowed with 
vigorous organs does not desire, in one fashion or in another, to molest his partner during his 
enjoyment of her? I know perfectly well that whole armies of idiots, who are never conscious 
of their sensations, will have much trouble understanding the systems I am establishing; but 
what do I care for these fools? 'Tis not to them I am speaking; soft-headed women- 
worshipers, I leave them prostrate at their insolent Dulcineas' feet, there let them wait for 
the sighs that will make them happy and, basely the slaves of the sex they ought to dominate, 
I abandon them to the vile delights of wearing the chains wherewith Nature has given them 
the right to overwhelm others! Let these beasts vegetate in the abjection which defiles them 
—'twould be in vain to preach to them!—, but let them not denigrate what they are incapable 
of understanding, and let them be persuaded that those who wish to establish their principles 
pertinent to this subject only upon the free outbursts of a vigorous and untrammeled 
imagination, as do we, you, Madame, and I, those like ourselves, I say, will always be the only 
ones who merit to be listened to, the only ones proper to prescribe laws unto them and to 
give lessons! . . . 

Goddamn! I've an erection! . . . Get Augustin to come back here, if you please. (They ring; 
he reappears.) 'Tis amazing how this fine lad's superb ass does preoccupy my mind while I 
talk! All my ideas seem involuntarily to relate themselves to it. . . . Show my eyes that 
masterpiece, Augustin ... let me kiss it and caress it, oh! for a quarter of an hour. Hither, my 
love, come, that I may, in your lovely ass, render myself worthy of the flames with which 
Sodom sets me aglow. Ah, he has the most beautiful buttocks . . . the whitest! I'd like to have 
Eugenie on her knees; she will suck his prick while I advance; in this manner, she will expose 
her ass to the Chevalier, who'll plunge into it, and Madame de Saint-Ange, astride Augustin's 
back, will present her buttocks to me: I'll kiss them; armed with the cat-o'-nine-tails, she 
might surely, it should seem to me, by bending a little, be able to flog the Chevalier who, 
thanks to this stimulating ritual, might resolve not to spare our student. (The position is 
arranged.) Yes, that's it; let's do our best, my friends; indeed, it is a great pleasure to 

commission you to execute tableaux; in all the world, there's not an artist fitter than you to 
realize them! . . . This rascal does have a nipping tight ass! ... 'tis all I can do to get a foothold 
in it. Would you do me the great kindness, Madame, of allowing me to bite and pinch your 
lovely flesh while I'm at my fuckery? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— As much as you like, my friend; but, I warn you, I am ready 
to take my revenge: I swear that, for every vexation you give me, I'll blow a fart into your 

DOLMANCE— By God, now! that is a threat! . . . quite enough to drive me to offend you, 
my dear. (He bites her.) Well! Let's see if you'll keep your word. (He receives a fart.) Ah, fuck, 
delicious! delicious! . . . (He slaps her and immediately receives another fart.) Oh, 'tis divine, 
my angel! Save me a few for the critical moment . . . and, be sure of it, I'll then treat you with 

the extremest cruelty . . . most barbarously I'll use you Fuck! I can tolerate this no longer 

... I discharge! . . . (He bites her, strikes her, and she farts uninterruptedly.) Dost see how I 
deal with you, my fine fair bitch! . . . how I dominate you . . . once again here . . . and there . . . 
and let the final insult be to the very idol at which I sacrificed! (He bites her asshole; the 
circle of debauchees is broken.) And the rest of you— what have you been up to, my friends? 

EUGENIE, spewing forth the fuck from her mouth and her ass— Alas! dear master . . . you 
see how your disciples have accommodated me! I have a mouthful of fuck and half a pint in 
my ass, 'tis all I am disgorging on both ends. 

DOLMANCE, sharply— Hold there! I want you to deposit in my mouth what the Chevalier 
introduced into your behind. 

EUGENIE, assuming a proper position— What an extravagance! 

DOLMANCE— Ah, there's nothing that can match fuck drained out of the depths of a pretty 
behind . . . 'tis a food fit for the gods. (He swallows some.) Behold, 'tis neatly wiped up, eh? 
(Moving to Augustin's ass, which he kisses.) Mesdames, I am going to ask your permission to 
spend a few moments in a nearby room with this young man. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- But can't you do here all you wish to do with him? 

DOLMANCE, in a low and mysterious tone— No; there are certain things which strictly 
require to be veiled. 

EUGENIE— Ah, by God, tell us what you'd be about! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE-I'll not allow him to leave if he does not. 

DOLMANCE-You then wish to know? 

EUGENIE— Absolutely. 

DOLMANCE, dragging Augustin— Very well, Mesdames, I am going . . . but, indeed, it 
cannot be said. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Is there, do you think, any conceivable infamy we are not 
worthy to hear of and execute? 

LE CHEVALIER— Wait, sister. I'll tell you. (He whispers to the two women.) 

EUGENIE, with a look of revulsion— You are right, 'tis hideous. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Why, I suspected as much. 

DOLMANCE— You see very well I had to be silent upon this caprice; and you grasp now 
that one must be alone and in the deepest shadow in order to give oneself over to such 

EUGENIE— Do you want me to accompany you? I'll frig you while you amuse yourself 
with Augustin. 

DOLMANCE— No, no, this is an affaire d'honneur and should take place between men 

only; a woman would only disturb us At your service in a moment, dear ladies. (He goes 

out, taking Augustin with him.) 



MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Indeed, brother, your friend is greatly a libertine. 

LE CHEVALIER— Then I've not deceived you in presenting him as such. 

EUGENIE— I am persuaded there is not his equal anywhere in the world. . . . Oh, my 
dearest, he is charming; I do hope we will see him often. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I hear a knock . . . who might it be? ... I gave orders ... it 
must be very urgent. Go see what it is, Chevalier, if you will be so kind. 

LE CHEVALIER— A letter Lafleur has brought; he left hastily, saying he remembered the 
instructions you had given him, but that the matter appeared to him as important as it was 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Ah ha! what's this? 'Tis your father, Eugenie! 
EUGENIE— My father! . . . then we are lost! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Let's read it before we get upset. (She reads.) 

Would you believe it, my dear lady? my unbearable wife, alarmed by my daughter's 
journey to your house, is leaving immediately, with the intention of bringing Eugenie home. 
She imagines all sorts of things . . . which, even were one to suppose them real, would, in 
truth, be but very ordinary and human indeed. I request you to punish her impertinence 
with exceeding rigor; yesterday, I chastised her for something similar: the lesson was not 
sufficient. Therefore, mystify her well, I beseech you on bended knee, and believe that, no 

matter to what lengths you carry things, no complaint will be heard from me 'Tis a very 

long time this whore's been oppressing me . . . indeed. . . . Do you follow me? what you do 
will be well done: that is all I can say to you. She will arrive shortly after my letter; keep 
yourself in readiness. Adieu; I should indeed like to be numbered in your company. Do not, I 
beg of you, return Eugenie to me until she is instructed. I am most content to leave the first 
gatherings to your hands, but be well convinced however that you will have labored in some 
sort in my behalf. 

Why, there, Eugenie! you see? There is nothing over which to be disturbed; it must be 
admitted, though, that the little wife in question is a mightily insolent one. 

EUGENIE— The slut! Ha! since Papa gives us a free hand, we must, by God, receive the 
creature in the manner she deserves. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Hither, kiss me, my heart. How comforted I am thus to 
perceive such dispositions in you! . . . Well, be at ease; I guarantee you we will not spare her. 
Eugenie, you desired a victim, and behold! here is one both Nature and fate are giving you. 

EUGENIE— We will enjoy the gift, my dear, I swear to you we'll put her to use! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— How eager I am to know how Dolmance will react to the 

DOLMANCE, entering with Augustin—Tis the best news possible, Madame; I was not so 

far away I could not overhear; Madame de Mistival's arrival is very opportune You are 

firmly determined, I trust, to satisfy her husband's expectations? 

EUGENIE, to Dolmance— Satisfy them? ... to surpass them, my love ... oh, may the earth 
sink beneath me if you see me falter whatever be the horrors to which you condemn the 
tramp! . . . Dear friend, entrust to me the supervision of the entire proceedings 

DOLMANCE— Allow your friend and me to take charge; you others need merely obey the 
orders we give you ... oh, the insolent creature! I've never seen anything like it! . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Clumsy fool! Well, shall we rather more decently deck 
ourselves in order to receive her? 

DOLMANCE— On the contrary; from the instant she enters, nothing must prevent her 
from being very sure of the manner in which we have been spending the time with her 
daughter. Let us all be rather in the greatest disorder. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I hear sounds; 'tis she! . . . Courage, Eugenie; remember our 
principles Ah, by God! 'twill be a delightful scene! . . . 



MADAME DE MISTIVAL, to Madame de Saint-Ange—l beg your forgiveness, Madame, for 
arriving unannounced at your house; but I hear that my daughter is here and as her few years 
do not yet permit her to venture abroad alone, I beg you, Madame, to be so very good as to 
return her to me, and not to disapprove my request or behavior. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— This behavior is eminently impolite, Madame; one would 
say, upon hearing your words, that your daughter is in bad hands. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— Faith ! if one must judge by the state I find her in, and you, 
Madame, and your company, I believe I am not greatly mistaken in supposing her in no good 
sort while she is here. 

DOLMANCE— Madame, this is an important beginning and, without being exactly 
informed of the degree of familiarity which obtains between Madame de Saint-Ange and you, 
I see no reason to pretend that I would not, were I in her place, already have had you pitched 
out of the window. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— I do not completely understand what you mean by "pitched out 
of the window." Be advised, Monsieur, that I am not a woman to be pitched out of windows; I 
have no idea who you are, but from your language and the state I observe you to be in, it is 
not impossible to arrive at a speedy conclusion concerning your manners. Eugenie! Follow 

EUGENIE— I beg your pardon, Madame, but I cannot enjoy that honor. 
MADAME DE MISTIVAL- What! my daughter resists me! 

DOLMANCE— Nay, 'tis worse yet: 'tis a case of formal disobedience, as you observe, 
Madame. Believe me, do not tolerate it in her. Would you like me to have whips brought in to 
punish this intractable child? 

EUGENIE— I should be greatly afraid, were they to be sent for, that they would be 
employed rather upon Madame than upon me. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Impertinent creature! 

DOLMANCE, approaching Madame de Mistival— Softly, my sweet, we'll have no 
invectives here; all of us are Eugenie's protectors, and you might regret your hastiness with 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— What! my daughter is to disobey me and I am not to be able to 
make her sensible of the rights I have over her! 

DOLMANCE— And what, if you please, are these rights, Madame? Do you flatter yourself 
they are legitimate? When Monsieur de Mistival, or whoever it was, spurted into your vagina 
the several drops of fuck that brought Eugenie into being, did you then, in the act, have her in 
mind? Eh? I dare say you did not. Well, then, how can you expect her to be beholden to you 
today for your having discharged when years ago someone fucked your nasty cunt? Take 
notice, Madame: there is nothing more illusory than fathers' and mothers' sentiments for 
their children, and children's for the authors of their days. Nothing supports, nothing 
justifies, nothing establishes such feelings, here in currency, there held in contempt, for there 
are countries where parents kill their children, others where the latter cut the throats of 
those whence they have breath. Were reciprocal love to have some natural sanction, 
consanguinity's power would no longer be chimerical and, without being seen, without 
mutually being known, parents would distinguish, would adore their sons and, reversibly, 
these would discern their unknown fathers, would fly into their arms and would do them 
reverence. Instead of which, what is it we see? Reciprocal hatreds inveterate; children who, 
even before reaching the age of reason, have never been able to suffer the sight of their 
fathers; fathers sending away their children because never could they endure their approach. 
Those alleged instincts are hence fictitious, absurd; self-interest only invents them, usage 
prescribes, habit sustains, but never did Nature engrave them in our hearts. Tell me: do 
animals know these feelings? no, surely not; however, 'tis always them one must consult 
when one wishes to be acquainted with Nature. O fathers! have no qualms regarding the so- 
called injustices your passions or your interest leads you to work upon these beings, for you 
nonexistent, to which a few drops of your sperm has given life; to them you owe nothing, you 
are in the world not for them but for yourselves: great fools you would be to be troubled 
about, to be occupied with anything but your own selves; for yourselves alone you ought to 
live; and you, dear children, you who are far more exempted— if it is possible to be far more 
exempted— from this filial piety whose basis is a true chimera, you must be persuaded also 
that you owe nothing to those individuals whose blood hatched you out of the darkness. Pity, 
gratitude, love— not one of these sentiments is their due; they who have given you existence 
have not a single right to require them from you; they labor for themselves only: let them 
look after themselves; but the greatest of all the duperies would be to give them either the 
help or the ministry no relationship can possibly oblige you to give; no law enjoins you, there 
is no prescription and if, by chance, you should hear some inner voice speaking to you— 
whether it is custom that inspires these announcements, whether it is your character's moral 
effect that produces these twinges—, unhesitatingly, remorselessly throttle those absurd 
sentiments . . . local sentiments, the fruit of geographical accident, climate, which Nature 
repudiates and reason disavows always! 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— But the care I have lavished upon her, the education I have 
given her! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Why, as for the care, 'tis never but the effect of convention or of vanity; 
having done no more for her than what is dictated by the customs of the country you inhabit, 
assuredly, Eugenie owes you nothing. As for her education, it appears to have been damnably 
poor, for we here have been obliged to replace all the principles you had put into her head; 
not one of the lot you gave her provides for her happiness, not one is not absurd or illusory. 
You spoke to her of God as if there were some such thing; of virtue as if it were necessary; of 
religion as if every religious cult were something other than the result of the grossest 

imposture and the most signal imbecility; of Jesus Christ as if that rascal were anything but a 
cheat and a bandit. You have told her that it is sinful to fuck, whereas to fuck is life's most 
delicious act; you have wished to give her good manners, as if a young girl's happiness were 
not inseparable from debauchery and immorality, as if the happiest of all women had not 
incontestably to be she who wallows most in filth and in libertinage, she who most and best 
defies every prejudice and who most laughs reputation to scorn. Ah, Madame, disabuse 
yourself: you have done nothing for your daughter, in her regard you have not fulfilled a 
single one of the obligations Nature dictates: Eugenie owes you naught but hatred. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— Oh merciful heaven! my Eugenie is doomed, 'tis evident. . . . 
Eugenie, my beloved Eugenie, for the last time heed the supplications of her who gave you 
your life; these are orders no longer, but prayers; unhappily, it is only too true that you are 
amidst monsters here; tear yourself from this perilous commerce and follow me; I ask it of 
you on my knees! (She falls to her knees.) 

DOLMANCE— Ah, very pretty! a tearful scene! ... To it, Eugenie! Be tender. 

EUGENIE, half-naked, as the reader surely must remember— Here you are, my dear little 

Mamma, I bring you my buttocks There they are, positively at the level of your lips; kiss 

them, my sweet, suck them, 'tis all Eugenie can do for you. . . . Remember, Dolmance: I shall 
always show myself worthy of having been your pupil. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, thrusting Eugenie away, with horror— Monster! I disown you 
forever, you are no longer my child! 

EUGENIE— Add a few curses to it, if you like, my dearest Mother, in order to render the 
thing more touching yet, and you will see me equally phlegmatic. 

DOLMANCE— Softly, Madame, softly; there is insult here; in our view, you have just rather 
too harshly repulsed Eugenie; I told you that she is in our safekeeping: a punishment is 
needed for this crime; have the kindness to undress yourself, strip to the skin, so as to receive 
what your brutality deserves. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Undress myself! . . . 

DOLMANCE— Augustin, act as this lady's maid-in-waiting, since she resists. (Augustin 
goes brutally to work; Madame de Mistival seeks to protect herself) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, to Madame de Saint-Ange-My God, where am I? Are you 
aware, Madame, of what you are allowing to be done to me in your house? Do you suppose I 
shall make no complaint? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— It is by no means certain you will be able to. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— Great God! then I am to be killed here! 

DOLMANCE- Why not? 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— One moment, gentlemen. Before exposing this charming 

beauty's body to your gaze, it would be well for me to forewarn you of the condition you are 
going to find it in. Eugenie has just whispered the entire story into my ear: yesterday, her 
husband used the whip on her, all but broke his arm beating her for some minor domestic 
mismanagement . . . and, Eugenie assures me, you are going to find her ass' cheeks looking 
like moire taffeta. 

DOLMANCE, immediately Madame de Mistival is naked— Well, by God, 'tis the absolute 
truth! I don't believe I've ever seen a body more mistreated than this . . . but, by Jesus! she's 
got as many cuts before as she has behind! . . . Yet ... I believe I espy a very fine ass here. (He 
kisses and fondles it.) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— Leave me alone, leave me, else I'll cry for help! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, coming up to her and seizing her by the arm— Listen to me, 
whore! I'm going to explain everything to you! . . . You are a victim sent us by your own 
husband; you have got to submit to your fate; nothing can save you from it . . . what will it 
be? I've no idea; perhaps you'll be hanged, wheeled, quartered, racked, burned alive; the 
choice of torture depends upon your daughter: 'tis she will give the order for your period; but, 
my whore, you are going to suffer ... oh, yes, you will not be immolated until after having 
undergone an infinite number of preliminary embarrassments. As for your cries, I warn you 
they will be to no purpose: one could slaughter a steer in this chamber without any risk of 
having his bellowings overheard. Your horses, your servants have already left; once again, my 
lovely one, your husband authorizes what we are doing, and your coming here is nothing but 
a trap baited for your simplicity and into which, you observe, you could not have fallen better. 

DOLMANCE— I hope that Madame is now perfectly tranquilized. 

EUGENIE— Thus to be forewarned is certainly to have been the object of a very ample 

DOLMANCE, still feeling and slapping her buttocks— Indeed, Madame, 'tis clear you have 

a warm friend in Madame de Saint-Ange Where, these days, does one come across such 

candor? What forthrightness in her tone when she addresses you! . . . Eugenie, come here 

and place your buttocks beside your mother's I'd like to make a comparison of your asses. 

(Eugenie obeys.) My goodness! yours is splendid, my dear, but, by God, Mamma's is not bad 

either . . . not yet ... in another instant I'll be amusing myself fucking you both Augustin, 

lay a hand upon Madame. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Merciful heavens! what an outrage! 

DOLMANCE, continuing throughout to realize his projects, and beginning them with an 
embuggery of the mother— Why, not at all! Nothing easier! . . . Look ye! You scarcely felt it! . . 

. Ha! 'tis clear your husband has many times trod the path! Your turn now, Eugenie What 

a difference! . . . There, I'm content; I simply wished to volley the ball a little, to put myself 
into shape . . . well, a little order now. First, Mesdames, you, Saint-Ange, and you, Eugenie, 
have the goodness to arm yourselves with artificial pricks in order, one after the other, to deal 
this respectable lady, now in the cunt, now in the ass . . . the most fearsome strokes. The 
Chevalier, Augustin, and I, acting with our own members, will relieve you with a prompt 

exactitude. I am going to begin and, as you may well believe, it is once again her ass which 
will receive my homage. During the games, parenthetically, each is invited to decide for 
himself what torture he wishes to inflict upon her; but bear it in mind: the suffering must 

increase gradually, so as not to kill her off beforetimes Augustin, dear boy, console me, by 

buggering me, for the obligation I am under to sodomize this ancient cow. Eugenie, let me 
kiss your beautiful behind while I bugger mamma, and you, Madame, bring yours near, so 
that I can handle it . . . socratize it. One must be walled round by asses when 'tis an ass one 

EUGENIE— What, my friend, what are you going to do to this bitch? While losing your 
sperm, to what do you intend to condemn her? 

DOLMANCE, all the while plying his whip— The most natural thing in the world: I am 
going to depilate her and lacerate her thighs with pincers. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, understanding this dual vexation— The monster! Criminal! he 
is mutilating me! ... oh, God Almighty! 

DOLMANCE— Implore him not, my dove: he will remain deaf to your voice, as he is to that 
of every other person: never has this powerful figure bothered to entangle himself in an affair 
concerning merely an ass. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Oh, how you are hurting me! 

DOLMANCE— Incredible effects of the human mind's idiosyncrasies! . . . You suffer, my 
best beloved, you weep and, wondrous thing! I discharge ... ah, double whore! I'd strangle 
you if I did not wish to leave the pleasure of it to others. She's yours, Saint-Ange. (Madame 
de Saint-Ange embuggers and encunts her with her dildo; she bestows a few blows of her fist 
upon her; the Chevalier succeeds her; he too avails himself of the two avenues and, as he 
discharges, boxes her ears. 'Tis Augustin who comes next: he acts in like wise and ends with 
a few digs with his fingers, pokes, pulls, and punches. During these various attacks, 
Dolmance has sent his engine straying about all the agents' asses, the while urging them on 
with his remarks.) Well, pretty Eugenie, fuck your mother, first of all, encunt her. 

EUGENIE— Come, dear lovely Mamma, come, let me serve you as a husband. 'Tis a little 
thicker than your spouse's, is it not, my dear? Never mind, 'twill enter. . . . Ah, Mother dear, 
you cry, you scream, scream when your daughter fucks you! . . . And you, Dolmance, you 
bugger me! . . . Here I am: at one stroke incestuous, adulteress, sodomite, and all that in a girl 
who only lost her maidenhead today! . . . What progress, my friends! . . . with what rapidity I 
advance along the thorny road of vice! . . . Oh, right enough, I am a doomed girl! ... I believe, 

dear Mother, you are discharging Dolmance, look at her eyes! she comes, it's certain, is it 

not? Ah, whore! I'm going to teach you to be a libertine . . . well, bitch, what do you think of 
that? (She squeezes, twists, wrenches her mother's breasts.) Ah, fuck, Dolmance . . . fuck, my 
gentle friend, I am dying! . . . (As she discharges, Eugenie showers ten or twelve jarring 
blows upon her mother's breast and sides.) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, about to lose consciousness— Have pity upon me, I beg of you . . 
. I ... I am not well ... I am fainting (Madame de Saint-Ange seems to wish to aid her; 

Dolmance lifts a restraining hand.) 

DOLMANCE— Why, no, leave her in her swoon: there is nothing so lubricious as to see a 
woman who has fainted; we'll flog her: that should restore her to her senses. . . . Eugenie, 
come, stretch out upon your victim's body . . . 'tis here I wish to discover whether you are 
steadfast. Chevalier, fuck her as she lies upon her failing mother, and let her frig us, Augustin 
and me, with each of her hands. You, Saint-Ange, frig her while she's being fucked. 

LE CHEVALIER— Indeed, Dolmance, 'tis horrible, what you have us do; this at once 
outrages Nature, heaven, and the most sacred laws of humanity. 

DOLMANCE— Nothing diverts me like the weighty outbursts of the Chevalier's 
virtuousness; but in all we are doing, where the devil does he see the least outrage to Nature, 
to heaven, and to mankind? My friend, it is from Nature roues obtain the principles they put 
into action; I've told you a thousand times over that Nature, who for the perfect maintenance 
of the laws of her general equilibrium, has sometimes need of vices and sometimes of 
virtues, inspires now this impulse, now that one, in accordance with what she requires; 
hence, we do no kind of evil in surrendering ourselves to these impulses, of whatever sort 
you may suppose them to be. With what regards heaven, my dear Chevalier, I beg of you, let 
us no more dread its effects: one single motor is operative in this universe, and that motor is 
Nature. The miracles— rather, the physical effects— of this mother of the human race, 
differently interpreted by men, have been deified by them under a thousand forms, each 
more extraordinary than the other; cheats and intriguers, abusing their fellows' credulity, 
have propagated their ridiculous daydreams, and that is what the Chevalier calls heaven, that 
is what he fears offending! . . . Humanity's laws are violated, he adds, by the petty stuff and 
nonsense in which we are indulging ourselves this afternoon. Get it into your head once and 
for all, my simple and very fainthearted fellow, that what fools call humaneness is nothing 
but a weakness born of fear and egoism; that this chimerical virtue, enslaving only weak men, 
is unknown to those whose character is formed by stoicism, courage, and philosophy. Then 
act, Chevalier, act and fear nothing; were we to pulverize this whore, there'd not be a 
suspicion of crime in the thing: it is impossible for man to commit a crime; when Nature 
inculcated in him the irresistible desire to commit crime, she most prudently arranged to put 
beyond his reach those acts which could disturb her operations or conflict with her will. Ha, 
my friend, be sure that all the rest is entirely permitted, and that she has not been so idiotic 
as to give us the power of discomfiting her or of disturbing her workings. The blind 
instruments of her inspirations, were she to order us to set fire to the universe, the only 
crime possible would be in resisting her: all the criminals on earth are nothing but the agents 
of her caprices . . . well, Eugenie, take your place. But what do I see? . . . she's turning pale! . . . 

EUGENIE, lying down upon her mother— Turning pale! I! God no! you'll very soon see the 
contrary! (The attitude is executed; Madame de Mistival remains unconscious. When the 
Chevalier has discharged, the group is broken.) 

DOLMANCE— What! the bitch is not yet awake! Whips! I say, bring me whips! . . . 
Augustin, run and gather me a handful of thorns from the garden. (While waiting, he slaps 
her face.) Oh, upon my soul, I fear she may be dead; nothing seems to have any effect upon 

EUGENIE, with irritation— Deadl dead! what's this? Then I'll have to go about wearing 
black this summer, and I have had the prettiest dresses made for me! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Ah ! the little monster! (She bursts into laughter.) 

DOLMANCE, taking the thorns from Augustin, who returns— We shall see whether this 
final remedy will not have some results. Eugenie, suck my prick while I labor to restore a 
mother to you and, Augustin, do you give me back the blows I am going to strike this stricken 
lady. I should not be sorry, Chevalier, to see you embugger your sister: you would adopt such 
a posture as to permit me to kiss your buttocks during the operation. 

LE CHEVALIER— Well, let's comply with it, since there seems no way of persuading this 
scoundrel that all he is having us do is appalling. (The stage is set; as the whipping of 
Madame de Mistival proceeds, she comes slowly to life.) 

DOLMANCE— Why, do you see the medicine's effects? I told you it would not fail us. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, opening her eyes— Oh heavens! why do you recall me from the 
grave's darkness? Why do you plunge me again into life's horrors? 

DOLMANCE, whipping her steadily— Indeed, mother dear, it is because much 
conversation remains to be held. Must you not hear your sentence pronounced? must it not 
be executed? . . . Come, let's gather round our victim: let her kneel in the center of the circle 
and, trembling, hear what will be announced to her. Madame de Saint-Ange, will you please 
begin. (The following speeches are pronounced while the actors are in full action.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I condemn her to be hanged. 

LE CHEVALIER— Cut into eighty thousand pieces, after the manner of the Chinese. 

AUGUSTIN— As for me, by Gar, I'd let her get off with being broken alive. 

EUGENIE— Into my pretty little mamma's body there will be driven wicks garnished with 
sulphur and I will undertake to set them afire, one by one. (The circle is dissolved.) 

DOLMANCE, coolly— Well, my friends, as your leader and instructor, I shall lighten the 
sentence; but the difference which will be discovered between what I decree and what you 
have demanded, this difference, I say, is that your sentences would be in the nature of the 
effects of mordant practical joking; mine, on the contrary, is going to be the cause of a little 
knavery. I have, waiting outside, a valet, and he is furnished with what is perhaps one of the 
loveliest members to be found in all of Nature; however, it distills disease, for 'tis eaten by 
one of the most impressive cases of syphilis I have yet anywhere encountered; I'll have my 
man come in: we'll have a coupling: he'll inject his poison into each of the two natural 
conduits that ornament this dear and amiable lady, with this consequence: that so long as 
this cruel disease's impressions shall last, the whore will remember not to trouble her 
daughter when Eugenie has herself fucked. (Everyone applauds; the valet is called in. 
Dolmance speaks now to him.) Lapierre, fuck this woman; she is exceptionally healthy; this 
amusement might cure you: at least, there may be some precedent for the miracle's success. 

LAPIERRE— In front of everyone, Monsieur? 
DOLMANCE— Are you afraid to exhibit your prick? 

LAPIERRE— No, by God! for it's very attractive Let's to it, Madame, be so good as to 

ready yourself. 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Oh, my God! what a hideous damnation! 

EUGENIE— Better that than to die, Mamma; at least I'll be able to wear some gay dresses 
this summer. 

DOLMANCE— Meanwhile, we might amuse ourselves; my opinion would be for us all to 
flagellate one another: Madame de Saint-Ange will thrash Lapierre, so as to insure Madame 
de Mistival's obtaining a good encuntment; I'll flay Madame de Saint-Ange, Augustin will 
whip me, Eugenie will have at Augustin and herself will be very vigorously beaten by the 
Chevalier. (All of which is arranged. When Lapierre has finished cunt-fucking, his master 
orders him to fuck Madame de Mistival's ass, and he does so. When all is completed, 
Dolmance continues.) Capital! Out with you, Lapierre. Wait. Here are five louis. Ha! by God, 
that was a better inoculation than Tronchin made in all his life! 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— I believe it is now of the highest importance to provide 
against the escape of the poison circulating in Madame's veins; consequently, Eugenie must 
very carefully sew your cunt and ass so that the virulent humor, more concentrated, less 
subject to evaporation and not at all to leakage, will more promptly cinder your bones. 

EUGENIE— Excellent idea! Quickly, quickly, fetch me needle and thread! . . . Spread your 
thighs, Mamma, so I can stitch you together— so that you'll give me no more little brothers 
and sisters. (Madame de Saint-Ange gives Eugenie a large needle, through whose eye is 
threaded a heavy red waxed thread; Eugenie sews.) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL-Oh, my God! the pain! 

DOLMANCE, laughing like a madman— By God! excellent idea indeed! it does you honor, 
my dear; it would never have occurred to me. 

EUGENIE,/rom time to time pricking the lips of the cunt, occasionally stabbing its 
interior and sometimes using her needle on her mother's belly and mons veneris.) Pay no 
attention to it, Mamma. I am simply testing the point. 

LE CHEVALIER— The little whore wants to bleed her to death! 

DOLMANCE, causing himself to be frigged by Madame de Saint-Ange, as he witnesses the 
operation— Ah, by God! how this extravagance stiffens me! Eugenie, multiply your stitches, 
so that the seam will be quite solid. 

EUGENIE— I'll take, if necessary, over two hundred of them Chevalier, frig me while I 


LE CHEVALIER, obeying— We never seen a girl as vicious as this one! 

EUGENIE, much inflamed— No invectives, Chevalier, or I'll prick you! Confine yourself to 
tickling me in the correct manner. A little asshole, if you please, my friend; have you only one 

hand? I can see no longer, my stitches go everywhere Look at it! do you see how my 

needle wanders ... to her thighs, her tits Oh, fuck! what pleasure! . . . 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— You are tearing me to pieces, vile creature! . . . Oh, how I blush 
that it was I who gave you life! 

EUGENIE— Come, come, be quiet, Mother dear; it's finished. 

DOLMANCE, emerging, with a great erection, from Madame de Saint-Ange's hands- 
Eugenie, allow me to do the ass; that part belongs to me. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— You're too stiff, Dolmance, you'll make a martyr of her. 

DOLMANCE— What matter! have we not written permission to make of her what we 
please? (He turns Madame deMistival upon her stomach, catches up the needle, and begins 
to sew her asshole.) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL, screaming like a banshee— Aie! aie! aie! 

DOLMANCE, driving the needle deep into her flesh— Silence, bitch! or I'll make a hash of 
your buttocks Eugenie, frig me 

EUGENIE— Willingly, but upon condition you prick her more energetically, for, you must 
admit, you are proceeding with strange forbearance. (She frigs him.) 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE- Work upon those two great cheeks for me! 

DOLMANCE— Patience, I'll soon have her carved like a shank of beef; Eugenie, you are 
forgetting your lessons: you capped my prick! 

EUGENIE— 'Tis because this bitch's sufferings are inflaming my imagination to the point I 
no longer know exactly what I am doing. 

DOLMANCE— Sweet fucking God! I'm beginning to go out of my mind! Saint-Ange, have 
Augustin bugger you in front of my eyes while your brother flies into your cunt, and above all 
dress me a panorama of asses: the picture will finish me. (He stabs Madame de MistivaYs 
buttocks while the posture he has called for is arranged.) Here, Mamma dear, take this . . . 
and again that! . . . (He drives his needle into at least twenty places.) 

MADAME DE MISTIVAL— Oh pardon me, Monsieur, I beg your pardon a thousand 
thousand times over . . . you are killing me. . . . 

DOLMANCE, wild with pleasure— I should like to . . . 'tis an age since I have had such an 
erection; never would I have thought it possible after so many consecutive ejaculations. 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE, executing the called-for attitude— Are we as we should be, 

DOLMANCE— Augustin, turn a little to the right; I don't see enough ass; have him lean 
forward: I must see the hole. 

EUGENIE— Ah fuck! look at the bugger bleed! 

DOLMANCE— Rather a good deal of blood, isn't there? Well, are the rest of you ready? As 
for myself, one minute more and I'll spray life's very balm upon the wounds I have just 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Yes, my heart, yes ... I am coming ... we arrive at the end at 
the same time 

DOLMANCE, who has finished his task, does nothing but increase his stabbing of the 
victim's buttocks as he discharges— Ah triple bloody fucking God! . . . my sperm flows . . . 'tis 
lost, by bleeding little Jesus! . . . Eugenie, direct it upon the flanks I have just mutilated ... oh 
fuck! fuck! 'tis done . . . over . . . I've no more ... oh, why must weakness succeed passions so 
alive? . . . 

MADAME DE SAINT-ANGE— Fuck! fuck me, brother, I discharge! . . . (To Augustin:) Stir 
yourself, great fucking-john! Don't you know that it is when I come that you've got to sink 
your tool deepest into my ass? . . . Ah, sacred name of God! how sweet it is, thus to be fucked 
by two men . . . (The group disperses.) 

DOLMANCE— And now all's been said. (To Madame deMistival:) Hey! whore, you may 
clothe yourself and leave when you wish. I must tell you that your husband authorized the 
doing of all that has just been done to you. We told you as much; you did not believe it. (He 
shows her the letter.) May this example serve to remind you that your daughter is old enough 
to do what she pleases; that she likes to fuck, loves to fuck, that she was born to fuck, and 
that, if you do not wish to be fucked yourself, the best thing for you to do is to let her do what 
she wants. Get out; the Chevalier will escort you home. Salute the company, whore! on your 
knees, bow down before your daughter, and beseech her pardon for your abominable use of 

her You, Eugenie, bestow two good smacks upon Madame your Mother and as soon as 

she gains the threshold, help her cross it with a few lusty kicks aimed at her ass. (All this is 
done.) Farewell, Chevalier; don't fuck Madame on the highway: remember, she's sewn up and 
has got the pox. (After the Chevalier's departure and Madame de Mistival's.) And now, good 
friends, let's to dinner, and afterward the four of us will retire for the night ... in the same 
bed. Well, we've had a fine active day. I never dine so heartily, I never sleep so soundly as 
when I have, during the day, sufficiently befouled myself with what our fools call crimes. 

Two Moral Tales 

Eugenie de Franval (1788) 

In his famous Catalogue raisonne 1 0/1788, drawn up with obvious pride in the Bastille less 
than a year before it was stormed, Sade made note of a work entitled Eugenie de Franval, 
which he described in the following manner: 

7? Eugenie de Franval, which might also be called or the Misfortunes of Incest. In 
all the literature of Europe there are neither any stories or novels wherein the 
dangers of libertinage are exposed with such force, no work wherein the dark-hued 
class of fiction [genre sombre] is carried to such frightening and pathetic extremes. 
This story offers a sublime characterization of a clergyman; a personage well- 
suited to reconcile the ungodly and debauched with virtue and religion. 

Sade originally intended to include Eugenie de Franval in a projected multivolume work 
which was to be entitled Contes et fabliaux du XVIIP siecle, par un troubadour provencal. 3 Of 
this work, Sade noted: 

This work comprises four volumes, with an engraving for each tale; these short 
tales are interspersed in such a manner that an adventure which is gay, and even 
naughty but still well within the limits of modesty and decency, will follow 
immediately upon a serious or tragic adventure 4 

Many of the manuscripts slated for this work were lost or destroyed when the Bastille 
was stormed, 5 however, and Sade was obliged to abandon his initial plan of publication. It 
was not until the year VIII (1800) that he compiled a new work, using those tales he had 
managed to save or recover, a volume for which he gave up the idea of alternating gay and 
somber stories, eliminating the gay. 6 Sade entitled the work Les Crimes de l'Amour, and 
prefaced it by a fascinating essay on the novel, Idee sur les romans, in which, turning his 
back on much of the French fiction of his day, he paid special homage to the robust genius of 
Fielding and Richardson. 

The eleven stories which comprise Les Crimes de l'Amour are uneven in quality, but at 
least one of them, Eugenie de Franval, qualifies as among the best ofSade's shorter fictions. 
We present it here in its entirety, augmented by certain passages which did not figure in the 
original edition but which Maurice Heine discovered in Sade's rough drafts and included in 
a later edition. 7 

To instruct man and correct his morals: such is the sole goal we set for ourselves in this story. 
In reading it, may the reader be steeped in the knowledge of the dangers which forever dog 
the steps of those who, to satisfy their desires, will stop at nothing! May they be persuaded 
that the best education, wealth, talent, and the gifts of Nature are likely to lead one astray 
unless they are buttressed and brought to the fore by self-restraint, good conduct, wisdom, 
and modesty. Such are the truths we intend to relate. May the reader show himself indulgent 
for the monstrous details of the hideous crime we are obliged to describe; but is it possible to 
make others detest such aberrations unless one has the courage to lay them bare, without the 
slightest embellishment? 

It is rare that everything conspires in one person to lead him to prosperity; does Nature 
shower her gifts upon him? Then Fortune refuses him her gifts. Does Fortune lavish her 
favors upon him? Then Nature proves niggardly. It would appear that the hand of Heaven has 
wished to show us that, in each individual as in the most sublime operations, the laws of 
equilibrium are the prime laws of the Universe, those which at the same time govern 
everything that happens, everything that vegetates, and everything that breathes. 

Franval lived in Paris, the city of his birth, and possessed, among a variety of other talents, 
an income of four hundred thousand livres, a handsome figure, and a face to match. But 
beneath this seductive exterior was concealed a plethora of vices, and unfortunately among 
them those which, when adopted and practiced, quickly lead to crime. Franval's initial 
shortcoming was an imagination the disorderliness of which defies description; this is a 
shortcoming that one cannot correct; its effects only worsen with age. The less one can do, 
the more one undertakes; the less one acts, the more one invents; each period of one's life 
brings new ideas to the fore, and satiety, far from dampening one's ardor, paves the way for 
even more baleful refinements. 

As we have said, Franval was generously endowed with all the charm of youth and all the 
talents which embellish it; but so great was his contempt of both moral and religious duties 
that it had become impossible for his tutors to inculcate any of them in him. 

In an age when the most dangerous, the most insidious books are available to children, as 
well as to their fathers and their tutors, when rashness of thought passes for philosophy, 
when incredulity passes for strength, and libertinage is mistaken for imagination, Franval's 
wit provoked approving laughter. He may have been scolded immediately afterward, but later 
he was praised for it. Franval's father, an ardent advocate of fashionable sophisms, was the 
first to encourage his son to think soundly on all these matters. He even went so far as to 
personally lend his son the works most liable to corrupt him all the more quickly. In the light 
of which, what teacher would have dared to inculcate principles different from those of the 
household wherein the young Franval was obliged to please? 

Be that as it may, Franval lost his parents while he was still very young, and when he was 
nineteen an elderly uncle, who also died shortly thereafter, bequeathed him, upon the 
occasion of his marriage, the full wealth due him from his inheritance. 

With such a fortune, Monsieur de Franval should have had not the slightest difficulty in 
finding a wife. An infinite number of possible matches were proposed, but since Franval had 
begged his uncle to arrange a match for him with a girl younger than he, and with as few 
relatives as possible, the old man directed his attentions to a Mademoiselle de Farneille, the 
daughter of a financier, who had lost her father and whose only family was her widowed 
mother. The girl was actually quite young, only fifteen, but she had sixty thousand very real 
livres annual income and one of the most charming and delightful faces in all Paris . . . one of 
those virgin-like faces in which the qualities of candor and charm vie with each other beneath 

the delicate features of love and feminine grace. Her long blond hair cascaded down below 
her waist and her large blue eyes bespoke both tenderness and modesty; she had a slender, 
lithe, and graceful figure, skin that was lily-white, and the freshness of roses about her. She 
was blessed with many talents, was possessed of a lively but slightly melancholy imagination 
—that gentle melancholy which predisposes one to a love of books and a taste for solitude, 
attributes which Nature seems to accord to those whom she has fated for misfortune, as 
though to make it less bitter for them by the somber and touching pleasure it brings them, a 
pleasure which makes them prefer tears to the frivolous joy of happiness, which is a much 
less active and less pervasive force. 

Madame de Farneille, who was thirty-two at the time of her daughter's marriage, was also 
a witty and winning woman, but perhaps a trifle too reserved and severe. Desirous to see her 
only child happy, she had consulted all of Paris about this marriage. And since she no longer 
had any family, she was obliged to rely for advice on a few of those cold friends who care not 
a whit about anything. They succeeded in convincing her that the young man who was being 
proposed for her daughter was, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best match she could 
make in Paris, and that she would be utterly and unpardonably foolish if she were to turn it 
down. And so the marriage took place, and the young couple, wealthy enough to take their 
own house, moved into it within a few days. 

Young Franval's heart did not contain any of those vices of levity, disorder, or 
irresponsibility which prevent a man from maturing before the age of thirty. Possessed of a 
fair share of self-confidence, and being an orderly man who was at his best in managing the 
affairs of a household, Franval had all the qualities necessary for this aspect of a happy life. 
His vices, of a different order altogether, were rather the failings of maturity than the 
indiscretions of youth: he was artful, scheming, cruel, base, self-centered, given to 
maneuvering, deceitful, and cunning— all of this he concealed not only by the grace and talent 
we have previously mentioned but also by his eloquence, his uncommon wit, and his most 
pleasing appearance. Such was the man we shall be dealing with. 

Mademoiselle de Farneille, who in accordance with the custom had only known her 
husband at most a month prior to their marriage, was taken in by this sparkling exterior, and 
she had become his dupe. She idolized him, and the days were not long enough for her to 
feast her adoring eyes upon him; so great was her adoration in fact, that had any obstacles 
intervened to trouble the sweetness of a marriage in which, she said, she had found her only 
happiness in life, her health, and even her life, might have been endangered. 

As for Franval, a philosopher when it came to women as he was with regard to everything 
else in life, coolness and impassivity marked his attitude toward this charming young woman. 

"The woman who belongs to us," he would say, "is a sort of individual whom custom has 
given us in bondage. She must be gentle, submissive . . . utterly faithful and obedient; not 
that I especially share the common prejudice concerning the dishonor a wife can impose 
upon us when she imitates our debaucheries. 'Tis merely that a man does not enjoy seeing 
another usurp his rights. Everything else is a matter of complete indifference, and adds not a 
jot to happiness." 

With such sentiments in a husband, it is easy to predict that a life of roses is not what lies 
in store for the poor girl who is married to him. Honest, sensible, well-bred, lovingly 
anticipating the every desire of the only man in the world she cared about, Madame de 
Franval bore her chains during the early years without ever suspecting her enslavement. It 
was easy for her to see that she was merely gleaning meager scraps in the fields of Hymen, 
but, still too happy with what little he left her, she devoted her every attention and applied 

herself scrupulously to make certain that during those brief moments when Franval 
acknowledged her tenderness he would at least find everything that she believed her beloved 
husband required to make him happy. 

And yet the best proof that Franval had not been completely remiss in his duties was the 
fact that, during the first year of their marriage, his wife, then aged sixteen and a half, gave 
birth to a daughter even more beautiful than her mother, a child whom her father 
straightway named Eugenie— Eugenie, both the horror and the wonder of Nature. 

Monsieur de Franval, who doubtless had formed the most odious designs upon the child 
the moment she was born, immediately separated her from her mother. Until she was seven, 
Eugenie was entrusted to the care of some women on whom Franval could rely, and they 
confined themselves to inculcating in her a good disposition and to teaching her to read. They 
scrupulously avoided imparting to her the slightest knowledge of any religious or moral 
principles of the sort that a girl of that age normally receives. 

Madame de Farneille and her daughter, who were grieved and shocked by such conduct, 
reproached Monsieur de Franval for it. He replied imperturbably that his plan was to make 
his daughter happy, and he had no intention of filling her mind with chimeras designed solely 
to frighten men without ever proving of the least worth to them. He also said that a girl who 
needed nothing more than to learn how to make herself pleasing and attractive would be well 
advised to remain ignorant of such nonsense, for such fantasies would only disturb the 
serenity of her life without adding a grain of truth to her moral character or a grain of beauty 
to her body. Such remarks were sorely displeasing to Madame de Farneille, who was 
increasingly attracted to celestial ideas the more she withdrew from worldly pleasures. Piety 
is a failing inherent in periods of advancing age or declining health. In the tumult of the 
passions, we generally feel but slight concern over a future we gauge to be extremely remote, 
but when passions' language becomes less compelling, when we advance on the final stages 
of life, when in a word everything leaves us, then we cast ourselves back into the arms of the 
God we have heard about when we were children. And if, according to philosophy, these latter 
illusions are fully as fantastic as the others, they are at least not as dangerous. 

Franval's mother-in-law had no close relatives, she herself had little or no influence, and at 
the very most a few casual friends who proved less than that when put to the test. Having to 
do battle against an amiable, young, well-situated son-in-law, she very wisely decided that it 
would be simpler to limit herself to remonstrating than to undertake more vigorous 
measures with a man who could ruin the mother and cause the daughter to be confined if 
they should dare to pit themselves against him. In consideration of which a few 
remonstrances were all she ventured, and as soon as she saw that they were to no avail, she 
fell silent. 

Franval, certain of his superiority and perceiving that they were afraid of him, soon threw 
all restraint to the winds and, only thinly disguising his activities simply for the sake of 
appearances, he advanced straight toward his terrible goal. 

When Eugenie was seven years old, Franval took her to his wife; and that loving mother, 
who had not seen her child since the day she had brought her into the world, could not get 
her fill of fondling and caressing her. For two hours she hugged the child to her breast, 
smothering her with kisses and bathing her with her tears. She wanted to learn all her little 
talents and accomplishments; but Eugenie had none except the ability to read fluently, to be 
blessed with perfect health, and to be as pretty as an angel. Madame de Franval was once 
again plunged into despair when she realized that it was only too true that her daughter was 
quite ignorant of the most basic principles of religion. 

"What are you doing, Sir," she said to her husband. "Do you mean to say you are bringing 
her up only for this world? Deign to reflect that she, like all of us, is destined to dwell but a 
second here, afterward to plunge into an eternity, which will be disastrous if you deprive her 
of the wherewithal to find happiness at the feet of Him from whom all life cometh." 

"If Eugenie knows nothing, Madame," Franval replied, "if these maxims are carefully 
concealed from her, there is no way she could be made unhappy; for if they are true, the 
Supreme Being is too just to punish her for her ignorance, and if they are false, what need is 
there to speak to her about them? As for the rest of her education, please have confidence in 
me. Starting today I shall be her tutor, and I promise you that in a few years your daughter 
will surpass all the children her own age." 

Madame de Franval wished to pursue the matter further; calling the heart's eloquence to 
the aid of reason, a few tears expressed themselves for her. But Franval, who was not in the 
least moved by the tears, did not seem even to notice them. He had Eugenie taken away, and 
informed his wife that if she tried to interfere in any way with the education he planned to 
give his daughter, or if she attempted to inculcate in the girl principles different from those 
with which he intended to nourish her, she would by so doing deprive herself of the pleasure 
of seeing her daughter, whom he would send to one of those chateaux from which she would 
not re-emerge. Madame de Franval, accustomed to submission, heard his words in silence. 
She begged her husband not to separate her from such a cherished possession and, weeping, 
promised not to interfere in any way with the education that was being prepared for her. 

From that moment on, Mademoiselle de Franval was installed in a very lovely apartment 
adjacent to that of her father, with a highly intelligent governess, an assistant governess, a 
chambermaid, and two girl companions her own age, solely intended for Eugenie's 
amusement. She was given teachers of writing, drawing, poetry, natural history, elocution, 
geography, astronomy, Greek, English, German, Italian, fencing, dancing, riding and music. 
Eugenie arose at seven every day, in summer as well as winter. For breakfast she had a large 
piece of rye bread, which she took with her out into the garden. She ran and played there till 
eight, when she came back inside and spent a few moments with her father in his apartment, 
while he acquainted her with the little tricks and games that society indulges in. Till nine she 
worked on her lessons; at nine her first tutor arrived. Between then and two she was visited 
by no less than five teachers. She ate lunch with her two little friends and her head governess. 
The dinner was composed of vegetables, fish, pastries, and fruit; never any meat, soup, wine, 
liqueurs, or coffee. From three to four, Eugenie went back out again to play with her 
companions. There they exercised together, playing tennis, ball, skittles, battledore and 
shuttlecock, or seeing how far they could run and jump. They dressed according to the 
seasons; they wore nothing that constricted their waists, never any of those ridiculous corsets 
equally dangerous for the stomach and chest which, impairing the breathing of a young 
person, perforce attack the lungs. From four to six, Mademoiselle de Franval received other 
tutors; and as all had not been able to appear the same day, the others came the following 
day. Three times a week, Eugenie went to the theater with her father, in the little grilled 
boxes that were rented for her by the year. At nine o'clock she returned home and dined. All 
she then had to eat were vegetables and fruit. Four times a week, from ten to eleven, she 
played with her two governesses and her maid, read from one or more novels, and then went 
to bed. The three other days, those when Franval did not dine out, she spent alone in her 
father's apartment, and Franval devoted this period to what he termed his conferences. 
During these sessions he inculcated in his daughter his maxims on morality and religion, 
presenting to her on the one hand what some men thought on these matters, and then on the 

other expounding his own views. 

Possessed of considerable intelligence, a vast range of knowledge, a keen mind, and 
passions that were already awakening, it is easy to judge the progress that these views made 
in Eugenie's soul. But since the shameful Franval's intention was not only to strengthen her 
mind, these lectures rarely concluded without inflaming her heart as well; and this horrible 
man succeeded so well in finding the means to please his daughter, he corrupted her so 
cleverly, he made himself so useful both to her education and her pleasures, he so ardently 
anticipated her every desire that Eugenie, even in the most brilliant circles, found no one as 
attractive as her father. And even before he made his intentions explicit, the innocent and 
pliant creature had filled her young heart with all the sentiments of friendship, gratitude, and 
tenderness which must inevitably lead to the most ardent love. She had eyes only for Franval; 
she paid no attention to anyone but him, and rebelled at any idea that might separate her 
from him. She would gladly have lavished upon him not her honor, not her charms— all these 
sacrifices would have seemed far too meager for the object of her idolatry— but her blood, her 
very life, if this tender friend of her heart had demanded it. 

Mademoiselle de Franval's feelings for her mother, her respectable and wretched mother, 
were not quite the same. Her father, by skillfully conveying to his daughter that Madame de 
Franval, being his wife, demanded certain ministrations from him which often prevented him 
from doing for his dear Eugenie everything his heart dictated, had discovered the secret of 
implanting in the heart of this young person much more hate and jealousy than the sort of 
respectable and tender sentiments that she ought to have felt for such a mother. 

"My friend, my brother," Eugenie sometimes used to say to Franval, who did not want his 
daughter to employ other expressions with him, "this woman you call your wife, this creature 
who, you tell me, brought me into this world, is indeed most demanding, since in wishing to 
have you always by her side, she deprives me of the happiness of spending my life with you. . 
. . It is quite obvious to me that you prefer her to your Eugenie. As for me, I shall never love 
anything that steals your heart away from me." 

"You are wrong, my dear friend," Franval replied. "No one in this world will ever acquire 
over me rights as strong as yours. The ties which bind this woman and your best friend— the 
fruit of usage and social convention, which I view philosophically— will never equal the ties 

between us You will always be my favorite, Eugenie; you will be the angel and the light of 

my life, the hearth of my heart, the moving force of my existence." 

"Oh! how sweet these words are!" Eugenie replied. "Repeat them to me often, my friend. . . 
. If only you knew how happy these expressions of your tenderness make me!" 

And taking Franval's hand and clasping it to her heart, she went on: 

"Here, feel, I can feel them all there " 

"Your tender caresses assure me it's true," Franval answered, pressing her in his arms. . . . 
And thus, without a trace of remorse, the perfidious wretch concluded his plans for the 
seduction of this poor girl. 

Eugenie's fourteenth year was the time Franval had set for the consummation of his 
crime. Let us shudder! ... He did it. 

The very day that she reached that age, or rather the day she completed her fourteenth 
year, they were both in the country, without the encumbering presence of family or other 
intrusions. The Count, having that day attired his daughter in the manner that vestal 
virgins had been clothed in ancient times upon the occasion of their consecration to the 
goddess Venus, brought her upon the stroke of eleven o'clock into a voluptuous drawing 

room wherein the daylight was softened by muslin curtains and the furniture was bedecked 
with flowers. In the middle of the room was a throne of roses; Franval led his daughter over 
to it. 

"Eugenie/' he said to her, helping her to sit down upon it, "today be the queen of my heart 
and allow me, on bended knee, to worship and adore thee." 

"You adore me, my brother, when it is to you that I owe everything, you who are the 

author of my days, who has formed me Ah! let me rather fall down at your feet; that is 

the only place I belong, and the only place I aspire to with you." 

"Oh my dear, my tender Eugenie," said the Count, seating himself beside her on the 
flower-strewn chairs which were to serve as the scene of his triumph, "if indeed it is true that 
you owe me something, if your feelings toward me are as sincere as you say they are, do you 
know by what means you can persuade me of your sincerity?" 

"What are they, my brother? Tell them to me quickly, so that I may be quick to seize 

"All these many charms, Eugenie, that Nature has lavished upon you, all these physical 
charms with which She has embellished you— these you must sacrifice to me without a 
moment's delay." 

"But what is it you ask of me? Are you not already the master of everything? Does not 
what you have wrought belong to you? Can another delight in your handiwork?" 
"But you are not unaware of people's prejudices. . . ." 
"You have never concealed them from me." 
"I do not wish to flout them without your consent." 
"Do you not despise them as much as I?" 

"Surely, but I do not want to be your tyrant, and even less your seducer. The services I am 
soliciting, nay the rewards I request, I wish to be won through love, and through love alone. 
You are familiar with the world and with its ways; I have never concealed any of its lures 
from you. My habit of keeping other men from your eyes, so that I alone will be the constant 
object of your vision, has become a hoax, apiece of trickery unworthy of me. If in the world 
there exists a being whom you prefer to me, name him without delay, I shall go to the ends 
of the earth to find him and straightway lead him back here into your arms. In a word, it is 
your happiness I seek, my angel, yours much more than mine. These gentle pleasures you 
can give me will be nothing to me, if they are not the concrete proof of your love. Therefore, 
Eugenie, make up your mind. The time has come for you to be immolated, and immolated 
you must be. But you yourself must name the priest who shall perform the sacrifice; I 
renounce the pleasures which this title assures me if it is not your heart and soul which offer 
them to me. And, still worthy of your heart, if 'tis not I whom you most prefer, still I shall, 
by bringing you him whom you can love and cherish, at least have merited your tender 
affection though I may not have won the citadel of your heart. And, failing to become 
Eugenie's lover, I shall still be her friend." 

"You will be everything, my brother, you will be everything," Eugenie said, burning with 
love and desire. "To whom do you wish me to sacrifice myself if it is not to him whom I 
solely adore! What creature in the entire universe can be more worthy than you of these 
meager charms that you desire . . . and over which your burning hands are already roaming 
with great ardor! Can't you see by the fire which inflames me that I am just as eager as you 
to know these pleasures of which you have spoken? Ah! do, do what you will, my dear 
brother, my best friend, make Eugenie your victim; immolated by your beloved hands, she 
will always be triumphant." 

The fervent Franval who, considering the character we know him to possess, had draped 
himself in so much delicacy only in order to seduce his daughter all the more subtly, soon 
abused her credulity and, with all the obstacles eliminated or overcome both by the 
principles with which he had nourished that open and impressionable heart and by the 
cunning with which he had ensnared her at this final moment, he concluded his perfidious 
conquest and himself became with impunity the ravisher of that virginity of which Nature 
and the bonds of blood had made him the trusted defender. 

Several days passed in mutual intoxication. Eugenie, old enough to experience the 
pleasures of love, her appetite whetted by his doctrines, yielded herself to its transports. 
Franval taught her all its mysteries; he traced for her all its paths and byways. The more he 
paid obeisance, the more complete became his conquest. She would have wished to receive 
him in a thousand temples simultaneously; she accused her friend's imagination of being 
too timid, of not throwing all caution to the winds. And she had the feeling that he was 
hiding something from her. She complained of her age, and of a kind of ingenuousness 
which perhaps kept her from being seductive enough. And if she wished to further her 
amorous education, it was to insure that no means of inflaming her lover remained 
unknown to her. 

They returned to Paris, but the criminal pleasures which this perverse man had reveled in 
had too delightfully flattered his moral and physical faculties for that trait of character, 
inconstancy, which generally caused him to break off his other affairs, to have the least effect 
in breaking the bonds of this one. He had fallen hopelessly in love, and from this dangerous 

passion there inevitably ensued the crudest abandonment of his wife Alas! what a victim. 

Madame de Franval, who was then thirty-one, was in the full flower of her beauty. An 
impression of sadness, the sort which inevitably follows upon the sorrows which consumed 
her, made her even more attractive. Bathed in her own tears, a constant prey to melancholy, 
her beautiful hair carelessly scattered over an alabaster throat, her lips lovingly pressed 
against the portraits of her faithless daughter and tyrant-husband, she resembled one of 
those beautiful virgins whom Michelangelo was wont to portray in the throes of sorrow. As 
yet she was still unaware of that which was destined to crown her affliction. The manner in 
which Eugenie was being educated, the essential things to which Madame de Franval was not 
privy or those she was told only to make her hate them; the certainty that these duties, 
despised by Franval, would never be permitted to her daughter; the little time she was 
allowed to spend with the young person; the fear that the peculiar education that Eugenie 
was being given might sooner or later lead her into the paths of crime; and, finally, Franval's 
wild conduct, his daily harshness toward her— she whose only concern in life was to 
anticipate his every wish, who knew no other charms than those resulting from her having 
interested or pleased him: these alone, for the moment, were the only causes of her distress. 
But imagine with what sorrow and pain this tender soul would be afflicted when she learned 
the full truth! 

Meanwhile, Eugenie's education continued. She herself had expressed a desire to follow 
her masters until she was sixteen, and her talents, the broad scope of her knowledge, the 
graces which daily developed in her— all these further tightened Franval's fetters. It was easy 
to see that he had never loved anyone the way he loved Eugenie. 

On the surface, nothing in Eugenie's daily routine had been changed save the time of the 
lectures. These private discussions with her father occurred much more frequently and lasted 
far into the night. Eugenie's governess was the only person privy to the affair, and they 
trusted her sufficiently not to be worried about her indiscretion. There were also a few 

changes in Eugenie's meal schedule: now she ate with her parents. In a house like Franval's, 
this circumstance soon placed Eugenie in a position to meet people and to be courted with a 
view toward marriage. Several men did ask for her hand. Franval, certain of his daughter's 
heart and feeling he had nothing to fear from these requests, had nonetheless failed to realize 
that this virtual flood of proposals might end by revealing everything. 

In one conversation with her daughter— a favor so devoutly desired by Madame de Franval 
and so rarely obtained— this tender mother informed Eugenie that Monsieur de Colunce had 
asked for her hand. 

"You know the gentleman," Madame de Franval said. "He loves you; he is young, 
agreeable, and one day he will be rich. He awaits your consent . . . naught but your consent. 
What will my answer be?" 

Taken aback, Eugenie reddened and replied that as yet she did not feel inclined toward 
marriage, but suggested the matter be referred to her father; his wish would be her 

Seeing in this reply nothing but candor pure and simple, Madame de Franval waited 
patiently for a few days until at last she found an occasion to speak to her husband about it. 
She communicated to him the intentions of the Colunce family, and those of young Colunce 
himself, and told him what his daughter's reply had been. 

As one can imagine, Franval already knew everything; but he made little effort to disguise 
his feelings. 

"Madame," he said dryly to his wife, "I must ask you to refrain from interfering in matters 
pertaining to Eugenie. I should have imagined that you would have surmised, from the care 
you saw me take to keep her away from you, how deeply I desired to make certain that 
anything relating to her should in no wise concern you. I reiterate my orders on this subject. I 
trust you will not forget them again." 

"But what, Sir, shall I reply," she answered, "since the request has been made through 

"You will say that I appreciate the honor, and that my daughter has certain congenital 
defects which make marriage impossible for her." 

"But, Monsieur, these defects are not real. Why should I then falsely saddle her with them, 
and why deprive your daughter of the happiness she may find in marriage?" 

"Has marriage then made you so profoundly happy, Madame?" 

"Doubtless all other wives have not failed so signally to win their husband's devotion, or" 
(and this was accompanied by a sigh) "all husbands are not like you." 

"Wives . . . wives are faithless, jealous, imperious, coquettish, or pious Husbands are 

treacherous, inconstant, cruel, or despotic. There, Madame, you have the summary of 
everyone on earth. Do not expect to find a paragon." 

"Still, everyone gets married." 

"True, the fools and ne'er-do-wells. In the words of one philosopher, 'People get married 
only when they do not know what they are doing, or when they no longer know what to do.'" 
"Then you think the human race should be allowed to die out?" 

"And why not? A planet whose only product is poison cannot be rooted out too quickly." 
"Eugenie will not be grateful to you for your excessive sternness toward her." 
"Has she evinced any desire to marry this young man?" 
"She said that your wishes were her commands." 

"In that case, Madame, my commands are that you pursue this matter no further." 
And Monsieur de Franval left the room after reiterating most vigorously to his wife that 

she never speak to him on the subject again. 

Madame de Franval did not fail to inform her mother of the conversation that she had just 
had with her husband, and Madame de Farneille, a more subtle soul and one more versed in 
the effects of the passions than was her attractive daughter, immediately suspected 
something unnatural was involved. 

Eugenie saw her grandmother very seldom, no more than an hour, on festive or important 
occasions, and always in the presence of her father. Desirous of clarifying the matter, 
Madame de Farneille sent word to her son-in-law asking him to accord her the presence of 
her granddaughter one day, and requesting that he might allow her to stay one entire 
afternoon, in order to distract her, she said, from a migraine headache from which she was 
suffering. Franval sent back an irritable reply saying that there was nothing Eugenie feared 
more than the vapors, but that he would nonetheless bring her personally to her 
grandmother whenever the latter desired. He added, however, that Eugenie would not be able 
to remain for very long, since she was obliged to go from her grandmother's to a physics 
course which she was assiduously following. 

When they arrived at Madame de Farneille's, she did not hide from her son-in-law her 
astonishment at his refusal of the proposed marriage. 

"I imagine that you safely can allow your daughter to persuade me herself," Madame de 
Farneille went on, "of this defect which, according to you, must deprive her of marriage." 

"Whether this defect is real or not, Madame," said Franval, who was slightly surprised by 
his mother-in-law's resolution, "the fact is that it would cost me a small fortune to marry my 
daughter, and I am still too young to consent to such sacrifices. When she is twenty-five, she 
may do as she wishes. Until then, she cannot count on me or my support." 

"And do you feel the same way, Eugenie?" said Madame de Farneille. 

"With this one difference," Eugenie said with considerable firmness. "My father has given 
me permission to marry when I am twenty-five. But to you both here present, Madame, I 
swear that I shall never in my life take advantage of this permission, which with my way of 
thinking would only lead to unhappiness." 

"At your age one does not have 'a way of thinking,' said Madame de Farneille, "and there is 
something quite out of the ordinary in all this, which I intend to ferret out." 

"I urge you to try, Madame," Franval said, leading his daughter away. "In fact, you would 
be well advised to seek the services of your clergy to help you in solving the enigma. And 
when all your powers have scraped and delved and you are at last enlightened in the matter, 
please let me know whether or not I was right in opposing Eugenie's marriage." 

Franval's sarcasm concerning his mother-in-law's ecclesiastical advisers was aimed at a 
respectable personage whom it will be appropriate to introduce at this point, since the 
sequence of events will soon show him in action. 

He was the confessor both of Madame de Farneille and her daughter, one of the most 
virtuous men in all France: honest, benevolent, a paragon of candor and wisdom, Monsieur 
de Clervil, far from having all the vices of men of the cloth, was possessed only of gentle and 
useful qualities. The rod and the staff of the poor, the sincere friend of the wealthy, the 
consoler of the wretched and downtrodden, this worthy man combined all the gifts which 
make a person agreeable, all the virtues which make one sensitive. 

When consulted, Clervil replied as a man of good common sense that before taking a stand 
in the matter they would have to unravel the reasons why Monsieur de Franval was opposed 
to his daughter's marriage; and although Madame de Farneille offered a few remarks 
suggesting the possibility of an affair— one which in fact existed all too concretely— the 

prudent confessor rejected these ideas. And finding them too outrageously insulting both for 
Madame de Franval and for her husband, he indignantly refused even to consider the 

"Crime is such a distressing thing, Madame," this honest man was sometimes wont to say, 
"it is so highly unlikely that a decent person should voluntarily exceed all the bounds of 
modesty and virtue, that it is never with anything but the most extreme repugnance that I 
make up my mind to ascribe such wrongs to someone. Be wary in suspecting the presence of 
vice. Our suspicions are often the handiwork of our pride and vanity, and almost always the 
fruit of a secret comparison that takes place in the depths of our soul: we hasten to assign 
evil, for this gives us the right to feel superior. If we reflect seriously upon the matter, would 
it not be better to leave a secret sin forever hidden rather than to dream up imaginary ones 
because of our unforgivable haste, and thus, for no reason, to sully in our eyes people who 
have never committed any wrongs save those which our pride has ascribed to them? And 
would our world not be a better place if this principle were always followed? Is it not 
infinitely less necessary to punish a crime than it is essential to prevent it from spreading? By 
leaving it in the darkness it seeks, have we not as it were annihilated it? Scandal noised 
abroad is certain scandal, and the recital of it awakens the passions of those who are inclined 
toward the same kind of crime. Crime being inevitably blind, the guilty party of the as yet 
undiscovered crime flatters himself that he will be luckier than the criminal whose crime has 
been found out. 'Tis not a lesson he has been given, but a counsel, and he gives himself over 
to excesses that he might never have dared to indulge in without the rash revelations . . . 
falsely mistaken for justice, but which, in reality, are nothing more than ill-conceived 
severity, or vanity in disguise." 

This initial conference therefore led to no other resolution than the decision to investigate 
carefully the reasons for Franval's aversion to the marriage of his daughter, and the reasons 
why Eugenie shared his opinions. It was decided not to undertake anything until these 
motives were discovered. 

"Well, Eugenie," Franval said to his daughter that evening, "now can you see for yourself 
that they want to separate us? And do you think they'll succeed, my child? . . . Will they 
succeed in breaking the sweetest bonds in my life?" 

"Never . . . never! Don't be afraid, my dearest friend! These bonds in which you delight are 
as precious to me as they are to you. You did not deceive me when you formed them; you 
clearly warned me how they would shock the morality of our society. But I was hardly 
frightened at the idea of breaking a custom which, varying from clime to clime, cannot 
therefore be sacred. I wanted these bonds; I wove them without remorse. Therefore you need 
have no fear that I shall break them." 

"Alas, who knows? . . . Colunce is younger than I. ... He has everything a man needs to win 
you. Eugenie, leave off listening to a vestige of madness which doubtless blinds you. Age and 
the torch of reason will soon dispel the aura and lead to regrets, you'll confide them to me, 
and I shall never forgive myself for having been the cause of them." 

"No," Eugenie said firmly, "no, I have made up my mind to love no one but you. I should 

deem myself the most miserable of women if I were obliged to marry Can you imagine," 

she went on heatedly, "me, me married to a stranger who, unlike you, would not have double 
reason to love me and whose feelings therefore would at best be no stronger than his desire. . 
. . Abandoned and despised by him, what would become of me thereafter? A prude, a 
sanctimonious person, or a whore? No, no, I prefer being your mistress, my friend. Yes, I love 
you a hundred times better than being reduced to playing one or the other of these infamous 

roles in society But what is the cause of all this commotion?" Eugenie went on bitterly. 

"Do you know what it is, my friend? Who is the cause of it? . . . Your wife? . . . She and she 
alone. Her implacable jealousy . . . You may be sure of it: these are the only reasons behind 

the disasters that threaten us Oh, I don't blame her: everything is simple . . . everything 

conceivable . . . one can resort to anything when it is a question of keeping you. What would I 
not do if I were in her place, and someone were trying to steal your affections from me?" 

Deeply moved, Franval showered his daughter with a thousand kisses. And Eugenie, 
finding the encouragement in these criminal caresses to plumb more forcefully the depths of 
her appalling soul, chanced to mention to her father, with an unforgivable impudence, that 
the only way for either one of them to escape her mother's surveillance would be to give her a 
lover. The idea amused Franval. But being a much more evil person than his daughter, and 
wishing to prepare imperceptibly this young heart for all the impressions of hatred for his 
wife that he desired to implant therein, he answered that he found this vengeance far too 
mild, adding that there were plenty of other means of making a woman miserable when she 
put her husband into a bad humor. 

Several weeks passed, during which Franval and his daughter finally decided to put into 
effect the first plan conceived for the despair of this monster's virtuous wife, rightly believing 
that before going on to more drastic and shameful acts, they should at least try to give her a 
lover. For not only would this furnish material for all the other acts, but, if it succeeded, it 
would necessarily oblige Madame de Franval to cease concerning herself with the faults of 
others, since she would have her own to worry about. For the execution of this project, 
Franval cast a careful eye upon all the young men he knew and, after considerable reflection, 
came to the conclusion that only Valmont could serve as his man. 

Valmont was thirty years old, had a charming face, considerable intelligence and a vivid 
imagination, and no principles whatever. He was, consequently, ideally suited to play the role 
they were going to offer him. One day Franval invited him to dinner and, as they were leaving 
the table, he took him aside: 

"My friend," he said to him, "I have always believed you worthy of me. The time has come 
to prove that I have not erred in my judgment. I demand a proof of your sentiments ... a 
most extraordinary proof." 

"What kind of proof, my dear fellow? Explain yourself, and never for a moment doubt of 
my eagerness to be of service to you!" 

"What do you think of my wife?" 

"A delightful creature. And if you weren't her husband, I would long since have made her 
my mistress." 

"This consideration is most delicate and discerning, Valmont, but it does not touch me." 
"What do you mean?" 

"I am going to astound you . . . 'tis precisely because you are fond of me, and because I am 
Madame de Franval's husband, that I demand that you become her lover." 
"Are you mad?" 

"No, but given to whimsy . . . capricious. You've been aware of these qualities in me for a 
long time. I want to bring about the downfall of virtue, and I maintain that you are the one to 
snare it." 

"What nonsense!" 

"Not in the least, 'tis a masterpiece of reason." 

"What! You mean you really want me to make you a . . .?" 

"Yes, I want it, I demand it, and I shall cease to consider you my friend if you refuse me 

this favor I shall help you I'll arrange it so that you can be alone with her . . . more 

and more often, if need be . . . and you will take advantage of these occasions. And the 
moment I am quite certain of my destiny, I shall, if you like, throw myself at your feet to 
thank you for your obliging kindness." 

"Franval, don't take me for an utter fool. There's something most strange about all this 

I refuse to lift a finger until you tell me the whole truth." 

"All right . . . but I suspect you're a trifle squeamish ... I doubt you have sufficient 

strength of mind to hear all the details of this matter You're still a prey to prejudice . . . 

still gallant, I venture to say, eh? ... If I tell you everything you'll tremble like a child and 
refuse to do anything further." 

"Me, tremble? ... In all honesty I must say I'm overwhelmed by the way you judge me. 
Listen, my friend, I want you to know that there is no aberration in the world, not a single 
vice, however strange or abnormal, that is capable of alarming my heart for even a moment." 

"Valmont, have you ever taken the trouble to cast a careful eye on Eugenie from time to 

"Your daughter?" 

"Or, if you prefer, my mistress." 

"Ah, you scoundrel! Now I understand." 

"This is the first time in my life I find you perceptive." 

"What? On your word of honor, you're in love with your daughter?" 

"Yes, my friend, exactly as Lot! I have always held the Holy Scriptures in highest esteem, 
as I have always been persuaded that one accedes to Heaven by emulating its heroes! ... Ah! 
my friend, Pygmalion's madness no longer amazes me. ... Is the world not full of such 
weaknesses? Was it not necessary to resort to such methods to populate the world? And what 
was then not a sin, can it now have become one? What nonsense! You mean to say that a 
lovely girl cannot tempt me because I am guilty of having sired her? That what ought to bind 
me more intimately to her should become the very reason for my removal from her? 'Tis 
because she resembles me, because she is flesh of my flesh, that is to say that she is the 
embodiment of all the motives upon which to base the most ardent love, that I should regard 
her with an icy eye? . . . Ah, what sophistry! . . . How totally absurd! Let fools abide by such 
ridiculous inhibitions, they are not made for hearts such as ours. The dominion of beauty, the 
holy rights of love are oblivious to futile human conventions. In their ascendancy they 
annihilate these conventions as the rays of the rising sun purge the earth of the shrouds 
which cloak it by night. Let us trample underfoot these abominable prejudices, which are 
always the enemies of happiness. If at times they beguile the reason, it has always been at the 
expense of the most exquisite pleasures May we forever despise them!" 

"I'm convinced," Valmont responded, "and I am willing to admit that your Eugenie must be 
a delightful mistress. A beauty more lively than her mother's, even though she does not 
possess, as does your wife, that languor which seizes the soul with such voluptuousness. But 
Eugenie has that piquant quality which breaks and subdues us, which, as it were, seems to 
subjugate anything which would like to offer resistance. While one seems to yield, the other 
demands; what one allows, the other offers. Of the two, I much prefer the latter." 

"But it's not Eugenie I'm giving you, but her mother." 

"And what reasons do you have for resorting to such methods?" 

"My wife is jealous, an albatross on my neck. She's forever spying on me. She wants 
Eugenie to marry. I must saddle my wife with sins in order to conceal my own. Therefore you 
must have her . . . amuse yourself with her for a time . . . and then you'll betray her. Let me 

surprise you in her arms . . . and then I shall punish her or, using this discovery as a weapon, 
I shall barter it in return for an armistice on both our parts. But no love, Valmont; with ice in 
your veins, capture and win her, but do not let her gain mastery over you. If you let 
sentiments become involved, my plans are as good as finished." 

"Have no fear: she would be the first woman who had aroused my heart." 

Thus our two villains came to a mutual agreement, and it was resolved that in a very few 
days Valmont would undertake to seduce Madame de Franval, with full permission to employ 
anything he wished in order to succeed . . . even the avowal of Franval's love, as the most 
powerful means of inducing this virtuous woman to seek vengeance. 

Eugenie, to whom the plan was revealed, thought it monstrously amusing. The infamous 
creature even dared declare that if Valmont should succeed, to make her happiness as 
complete as possible she would like to verify with her own eyes her mother's disgrace, she 
absolutely had to witness that paragon of virtue incontestably yielding to the charms of a 
pleasure that she so rigorously condemned in others. 

At last the day arrived when the most virtuous, the best, and most wretched of women was 
not only going to receive the most painful blow that anyone can be dealt but also when her 
hideous husband was destined to outrage her, abandoning her— handing her over himself— to 

him by whom he had agreed to be dishonored What madness! . . . What utter disdain of 

all principles. With what view in mind does Nature create hearts as depraved as these?. . . 

A few preliminary conversations had set the stage for the present scene. Furthermore, 
Valmont was on close enough terms with Franval so that his wife had not the slightest 
compunction about remaining alone with him, as indeed she had done on more than one 
occasion in the past. The three of them were sitting in the drawing room. Franval rose and 

"I must leave. An important matter requires my presence 'Tis to leave you in the care 

of your governess," he said, laughing, "leaving you with Valmont. The man's a pillar of virtue. 
But if he should forget himself, please be kind enough to inform me. I still do not love him 
enough to yield him my rights " 

And the insolent fellow departed. 

After exchanging a few banalities, the aftereffects of Franval's little joke, Valmont said that 
he had found his friend changed during the past six months. 

"I haven't dared broach the subject, to ask him the reasons," Valmont said, "but he seems 
to be upset and distressed." 

"One thing which is certain," Madame de Franval replied, "is that he is upsetting and 
distressing those around him." 

"Good heavens! What are you saying? . . . that my friend has been treating you badly?" 

"If it were still only that!" 

"Be so good as to inform me, you know how devoted I am . . . my inviolable attachment." 

"A series of frightful disorders . . . moral corruption, in short every kind of wrong . . . would 
you believe it? We received a most advantageous offer to marry our daughter . . . and he 
refused " 

And here the artful Valmont averted his eyes, the expression of a man who has understood 
. . . who sighs to himself . . . and is afraid to explain. 

"What is the matter, Monsieur," Madame de Franval resumed, "what I have told you does 
not surprise you? Your silence is most singular." 

"Ah, Madame, is it not better to remain silent than to say things which will bring despair to 
someone one loves?" 

"And what, may I ask, is that enigma? Explain yourself, I beg of you." 

"How can you expect me not to shudder if I should be the one who causes the scales to fall 
from your eyes," Valmont said, warmly seizing one of her hands. 

"Oh, Monsieur," Madame de Franval went on, with great animation, "either explain 
yourself or say not another word, I beseech you. The situation you leave me in is terrible." 

"Perhaps less terrible than the state to which you yourself reduce me," said Valmont, 
casting a look of love at the woman he was intent on seducing. 

"But what does all that mean, Sir? You begin by alarming me, you make me desire an 
explanation, then daring to insinuate certain things that I neither can nor should endure, you 
deprive me of the means of learning from you what upsets me so cruelly. Speak, Sir, speak or 
you shall reduce me to utter despair." 

"Very well, Madame, since you demand it I shall be less obscure, even though it costs me 

dearly to break your heart Learn, if you must, the cruel reason behind your husband's 

refusal to Monsieur Colunce's request . . . Eugenie . . ." 


"Well, the fact is, Madame, that Franval adores her. Today less her father than her lover, 
he would rather give up his own life than give up Eugenie." 

Madame de Franval had not heard this fatal revelation without reacting, and she fell down 
in a faint. Valmont hastened to her assistance, and as soon as she had come to her senses he 

"You see, Madame, the cost of the disclosure you demanded I would have given 

anything in the world to . . ." 

"Leave me, Monsieur, leave me," said Madame de Franval, who was in a state difficult to 
describe. "After a shock such as this I need to be alone for a while." 

"And you expect me to leave you in this situation? Ah, your grief is too fully felt in my own 
heart for me not to ask you the privilege of sharing it with you. I have inflicted the wound. 
Let me bind it up." 

"Franval, in love with his daughter! Just Heaven! This creature whom I have borne in my 
womb, 'tis now she who breaks my heart so grievously! ... So horrible, so shocking a crime! . 
. . Ah, Monsieur, is it possible? . . . Are you quite certain?" 

"Madame, had I the slightest doubt I should have remained silent. I would a hundred 
times rather have preferred not to tell you anything than to alarm you in vain. 'Tis from your 
own husband I have the certitude of this infamy, which he confided to me. In any event, try 
and be calm, I beg of you. Rather let us concentrate now on the means of breaking off this 
affair than on those of bringing it to light. And you alone hold the key to this rupture " 

"Ah, tell me this minute what it is. This crime horrifies me." 

"Madame, a husband of Franval's character is not brought back by virtue. He is little 
disposed to believe in the virtue of women. Virtue, he maintains, is the fruit of their pride or 
their temperament, and what they do to remain faithful to us is done more to satisfy 

themselves than either to please or enchain us You will excuse me, Madame, if I say that 

on this point I must admit that I tend to share his opinion. Never in my experience has a wife 
succeeded in destroying her husband's vices by means of virtue. What would prick him, what 
would stimulate him much more would be a conduct approximating his own, and by this 
would you bring him more quickly back to you. Jealousy would be the inevitable result; how 
many hearts have been restored to love by this infallible means. Your husband, then seeing 
that this virtue to which he is accustomed, and which he has been so insolent as to despise, is 
rather the work of reflection than of the organs' insouciance, will really learn to esteem it in 

you, at the very moment when he believes you capable of discarding it. He imagines ... he 
dares to say that if you have never had any lovers, it is because you have never been 
assaulted. Prove to him that this is a decision which lies solely in your own hands ... to 
revenge yourself for his wrongdoings and his contempt. Perhaps, according to your strict 
principles, you will have committed a minor sin. But think of all the sins you will have 
prevented! Think of the husband you will have steered back to you! And for no more than the 
most minor outrage to the goddess you revere, what a disciple you will have brought back 
into her temple. Ah, Madame, I appeal only to your reason. By the conduct I dare to prescribe 
to you, you will bring Franval back forever, you will captivate him eternally. The reverse 
conduct— the one you have been following— sends him flying away from you. He will escape 
you, never to return. Yes, Madame, I dare to affirm that either you do not love your husband 
or you should cease this hesitation." 

Madame de Franval, very much taken aback by this declaration, remained silent for some 
time. Then, remembering Valmont's earlier looks, and his initial remarks, she managed to 
reply adroitly: 

"Monsieur, let us presume that I follow the advice you give me; upon whom do you think I 
should cast my eye to upset my husband further?" 

"Ah, my dear, my divine friend," Valmont cried, oblivious to the trap she had set for him, 
"upon the one man in the world who loves you most, upon him who has adored you since 
first he set eyes upon you and who swears at your feet to die beneath your sway " 

"Leave, Monsieur," Madame de Franval said imperiously, "leave and never let me see you 
again. Your ruse has been discovered. You accuse my husband of wrongs of which he can only 
be innocent merely to advance your own treacherous schemes of seduction. And let me tell 
you that even were he guilty, the means you offer me are too repugnant to my heart for me to 
entertain them for a moment. Never do the failings of a husband justify or exonerate those of 
a wife. For her they must become the reasons for even greater virtue, so that the Just and 
Righteous man, whom the Almighty will come upon in the afflicted cities on the verge of 
suffering the effects of his wrath, may divert the flames which are about to consume them." 

Upon these words Madame de Franval left the room and, calling for Valmont's servants, 
obliged him to withdraw, much ashamed of his initial efforts. 

Although this attractive woman had seen through Valmont's ruses, what he had said 
coincided so well with her own and her mother's fears that she resolved to do everything 
within her power to ascertain these cruel facts. She paid a visit to Madame de Farneille, 
recounted to her everything that had happened and returned, her mind made up as to the 
steps that we are going to see her undertake. 

It has long been said, and rightfully so, that we have no greater enemies than our own 
servants; forever jealous, always envious, they seem to seek to lighten the burden of their 
own yoke by discovering wrongs in us which, then placing us in a position inferior to 
themselves, allow them for the space of a few moments at least to gratify their vanity by 
assuming a superiority over us which fate has denied them. 

Madame de Franval bribed one of Eugenie's servants: the promise of a fixed pension, a 
pleasant future, the appearance of doing a good deed— all swayed this creature and she 
promised to arrange it the following night so that Madame de Franval could dispel all doubts 
as to her unhappiness. 

The moment arrived. The wretched mother was admitted to a room adjoining the room 
wherein, each night, her perfidious husband outraged both his nuptial bonds and the bonds 
of Heaven. Eugenie was with her father; several candles remained lighted on a corner 

cupboard; they were going to illuminate this crime The altar was prepared, the victim 

took her place upon it, he who performs the sacrifice followed her 

Madame de Franval was no longer sustained by anything save her despair, her outraged 

love, and her courage She burst open the doors restraining her, she hurled herself into 

the room, and there, her face bathed in tears, she fell on her knees at the feet of the 
incestuous Franval: 

"Oh, you," she cried, addressing herself to Franval, "you who fill my life with misery and 

sorrow, I have not deserved such treatment However you have insulted and wronged me, 

I still worship you. See my tears, and do not dismiss my appeal: I ask you to have mercy on 
this poor wretched child who, deceived by her own weakness and your seduction, thinks she 

can find happiness in shamelessness and crime Eugenie, Eugenie, do you want to thrust a 

sword into the heart of her who brought you into the world? No longer consent to be the 
accomplice of this heinous crime whose full horror has been concealed from you! Come . . . 
let me fold you in my waiting arms. Look at your wretched mother on her knees before you, 

begging you not to outrage both your honor and Nature But if you both refuse," the 

distraught woman went on, bearing a dagger to her heart, "this is the means I shall employ to 
escape the dishonor with which you are trying to cover me. I shall make my blood flow and 
stain you here, and you will have to consummate your crimes upon my sad body." 

That Franval's hardened heart was able to resist this spectacle, those who are beginning to 
know this scoundrel will have no trouble believing; but that Eugenie remained unmoved by it 
is quite inconceivable. 

"Madame," said this corrupted girl with the crudest show of impassivity, "I must admit I 
find it hard to believe you in full possession of your reason, after the scene you have just 
made in your husband's room. Is he not the master of his own actions? And when he 
approves of mine, what right have you to blame them? Do we worry our heads or pry into 
your indiscretions with Monsieur Valmont? Do we disturb you in the exercise of your 
pleasures? Therefore deign to respect ours, or do not be surprised if I urge your husband to 
take whatever steps are required to oblige you to do so " 

At this point Madame de Franval could no longer control her patience, and the full force of 
her anger was turned against the unworthy creature who could so forget herself as to speak to 
her in such terms. Struggling to her feet, Madame de Franval threw herself furiously upon 
her daughter, but the odious and cruel Franval, seizing his wife by the hair, dragged her in a 
rage away from her daughter out of the room. He threw her violently down the stairs of the 
house, and she fell, bloody and unconscious, at the door of one of the chambermaids' rooms. 
Awakened by this terrible noise, the maid quickly saved her mistress from the wrath of her 
tyrant, who was already on his way downstairs to finish off his hapless victim 

They took her to her room, locked her in, and began to administer to her, while the 
monster who had just treated her with such utter fury flew back to his detestable companion 
to spend the night as peacefully as though he had not debased himself lower than the most 
ferocious beasts by assaults so execrable, so designed to degrade and humiliate her ... so 
horrible, in a word, that we blush at the necessity of having to reveal them. 

Poor Madame de Franval no longer had any illusions left, and there was no other for her to 
espouse. It was all too clear that her husband's heart, that is, the most beloved possession of 
her life, had been taken from her. And by whom? By the very person who owed her the most 
respect, and who had just spoken to her with utter insolence. She also began to suspect 
strongly that the whole adventure with Valmont had been nothing more than a detestable 
trap set to ensnare her in a web of guilt, if 'twere possible or, failing that, to ascribe the guilt 

to her in any event, in order to counterbalance, and hence justify, the thousand times more 
serious wrongs which they dared to heap upon her. 

Nothing could have been more certain. Franval, informed of Valmont's failure, had 
prevailed upon him to replace the truth by imposture and indiscretion, and to noise it abroad 
that he was Madame de Franval's lover. And they had decided that they would forge 
abominable letters which would document, in the most unequivocal manner, the existence of 
the illicit commerce in which, however, poor Madame de Franval had actually refused to 
involve herself. 

Meanwhile, in deep despair, Madame de Franval, whose body was covered with numerous 
wounds, fell seriously ill. Her barbarous husband, refusing to see her and not even bothering 
to inform himself of her condition, left with Eugenie for the country, on the pretense that 
since there was fever in the house he did not care to expose his daughter to it. 

During her illness, Valmont several times came to call at her door, but was each time 
refused admission. Locked in her room with her mother and Monsieur de Clervil, Madame de 
Franval absolutely refused to see anyone else. Consoled by such dear friends as these, who 
were so fully worthy of being able to influence her, and nourished back to health by their 
loving care, forty days later Madame de Franval was in a condition to see people again. At 
which time Franval brought his daughter back to Paris and, with Valmont, mapped out a 
campaign intended to counter the one it appeared that Madame de Franval and her friends 
were preparing to direct against him. 

Our scoundrel paid his wife a visit as soon as he judged she was well enough to receive 

"Madame," he said coldly, "you must be aware of my concern for your condition. I cannot 
conceal from you the fact that your condition is the sole factor restraining Eugenie. She was 
determined to bring a complaint against you for the way you have treated her. However she 
may be persuaded of the basic respect due a mother by her daughter, still she cannot ignore 
the fact that this same mother threw herself on her daughter with a drawn dagger. Such a 
violent and unseemly act, Madame, could well open the eyes of the government to your 
conduct and, inevitably, pose a serious threat to both your honor and your liberty." 

"I was not expecting such recriminations, Monsieur," Madame de Franval replied. "And 
when my daughter, seduced by you, becomes at the same time guilty of incest, adultery, 
libertinage, and ingratitude— ingratitude of the most odious sort— toward her who brought 
her into the world, . . . yes, I must confess, I did not imagine that after this complexity of 
horrors that I would be the one against whom a complaint would be brought. It takes all your 
cunning, all your wickedness, Monsieur, to accuse innocence the while excusing crime with 
such audacity." 

"I am not unaware, Madame, that the pretense for your scene was the odious suspicion 
you dared to formulate regarding me. But chimeras do not justify crimes. What you have 
imagined is false. But, unfortunately, what you have done is only too real. You evinced 
astonishment at the reproaches my daughter directed at you at the time of your affair with 
Valmont. But, Madame, she has only discovered the irregularities of your conduct since they 
have been the talk of all Paris. This affair is so well known, and the proofs of it unfortunately 
so solid, that those who speak to you about it are at the very most guilty of indiscretion, but 
not of calumny." 

"I, Sir," said this respectable woman, rising to her feet, indignantly, "I have an affair with 
Valmont! Just Heaven! 'Tis you who have said it!" (Breaking into tears:) 

"Ungrateful wretch! This is how you repay my tenderness. . . . This is my recompense for 

having loved you so. It is not enough for you to outrage me so cruelly. It is not enough that 
you seduce my daughter. You have to go even further and, by ascribing crimes which for me 

would be more terrible than death, dare to justify your own " (Regaining her composure:) 

"You say, Monsieur, that you have the proofs of this affair. All right, show them. I demand 
that they be made public, and I shall force you to show them to everyone if you refuse to 
show them to me." 

"No, Madame, I shall not show them to the whole world; it is not generally the husband 
who openly displays this sort of thing; he bemoans it, and conceals it as best he can. But if 
you demand it, Madame, I shall certainly not refuse you. . . ." (And then taking a letter case 
from his pocket:) "Sit down," he said, "this must be verified calmly. Ill-humor and loss of 
temper would be harmful but would not convince me. Therefore, I beg you to keep control of 
yourself, and let us discuss this with composure." 

Madame de Franval, thoroughly convinced of her innocence, did not know what to make of 
these preparatory remarks. And her surprise, mingled with fright, kept her in a state of 
extreme agitation. 

"First of all, Madame," said Franval, emptying one side of the letter case, "here is all your 
correspondence with Valmont over the past six months. Do not accuse this worthy gentleman 
either of imprudence or indiscretion. He is doubtless too honorable a man to have dared fail 
you so badly. But one of his servants, more adroit than Valmont is attentive, discovered the 
secret way to procure for me this precious monument to your extreme fidelity and your 
eminent virtue." (Then, leafing through the letters which he spread out on the table:) "Please 
allow me," he went on, "to choose one from among many of these ordinary displays of 
chitchat by an overheated woman . . . overheated, I might add, by a most attractive man; one, 
I say, which seemed to me more lascivious and decisive than the others. Here it is, Madame: 

My boring husband is dining tonight in his maisonette on the outskirts of Paris with 
that horrible creature ... a creature it is impossible I brought into the world. Come, 
my love, come and comfort me for all the sorrows which these two monsters give 

me What am I saying? Is this not the greatest service they could be doing me at 

present, and will that affair not prevent my husband from discovering ours? Let him 
then tighten the bonds as much as he likes; but at least let him not bethink himself 
to desire breaking those which attach me to the only man whom I have ever adored 
in this world. 

"Well, Madame?" 

"Well, Monsieur, I must say I admire you," Madame de Franval replied. "Each day adds to 
the incredible esteem you so richly deserve. And however many fine qualities I have 
recognized in you hitherto, I confess I was yet unaware you were also a forger and a 

"Ah, so you deny the evidence?" 

"Not in the least. All I ask is to be persuaded. We shall have judges appointed . . . experts. 
And, if you agree, we shall ask that the most severe penalty be exacted against whichever of 
the two parties is found guilty." 

"That is what I call effrontery! Well, the truth is I prefer it to sorrow Now, where were 

we? Ah, yes; that you have a lover, Madame," said Franval, shaking out the other side of the 
letter case, "a lover with a handsome face, and a boring husband, is most assuredly nothing 
so extraordinary. But that at your age you are supporting this lover— at my expense— I trust 

you will allow me not to find this quite so simple. . . . And yet here are 100,000 ecus in notes, 
either paid by you or made out in your hand in favor of Valmont. Please run through them, I 

beg of you," this monster added, showing them to her without allowing her to touch them 

To Zaide, jeweler 

By the present note I hereby agree to pay the sum of twenty-two thousand livres on 
the account of Monsieur de Valmont, by arrangement with him. 


"Here's another made out to Jamet, the horse merchant, for six thousand livres. This is for 
the team of dark bay horses which today are both Valmont's delight and the admiration of all 

Paris Yes, Madame, the whole package comes to three hundred thousand, two hundred 

and eighty-three livres, and ten sous, a third of which total you still owe, and the balance of 
which you have most loyally paid Well, Madame?" 

"Ah, Monsieur, this fraud is too crude and vulgar to cause me the least concern. To 
confound those who have invented it against me, I demand but one thing: that the people in 
whose names I have, so it is alleged, made out these documents, appear personally and swear 
under oath that I have had dealings with them." 

"They will, Madame, of that you may be sure. Do you think they themselves would have 
warned me of your conduct if they were not determined to back up their claims? Indeed, 
without my intervention, one of them would have signed a writ against you today " 

At this point poor Madame de Franval's beautiful eyes filled with bitter tears. Her courage 
failed to sustain her any longer, and she fell into a fit of despair with the most frightful 
symptoms: she began to strike her head against the marble objects around her, bruising her 
face horribly. 

"Monsieur," she cried out, throwing herself at her husband's feet, "please do away with me, 
I beseech you, by means less slow and less torturous. Since my life is an obstacle to your 

crimes, end it with a single blow . . . refrain though from inching me into my grave Am I 

guilty of having loved you? of having rebelled against what was so cruelly stealing your heart 
from me? . . . Well then, barbarian, punish me for these transgressions. Yes, take this metal 
shaft," she said, throwing herself on her husband's sword, "and pierce my breast with it, with 
no pity. But at least let me die worthy of your esteem, let me take as my sole consolation to 
the grave the certainty that you believe me incapable of the infamies of which you accuse me 
. . . solely to cover your own " 

She was on her knees at Franval's feet, her head and bust thrown back, her hands wounded 
and bleeding from the naked steel she had tried to seize and thrust into her breast. This 
lovely breast was laid bare, her hair was in disarray, its strands soaked by the tears that 
flowed abundantly. Never had sorrow been more pathetic and more expressive, never had it 
been seen in a more touching, more noble, and more attractive garb. 

"No, Madame," Franval said, resisting her movement, "no, 'tis not your death I desire, but 
your punishment. I can understand your repentance, your tears do not surprise me, you are 
furious at having been discovered. I approve of this frame of mind, which leads me to believe 
you plan to amend your ways, a change that the fate I have in mind for you, and because of 
which I must depart in order to give it my every care, will doubtless precipitate." 

"Stop, Franval," the unhappy woman cried, "do not voice abroad the news of your dishonor, 
nor tell the world that you are a perjurer, a forger, a slanderer, and guilty of incest into the 

bargain. . . . You wish to have done with me, I shall run away, I shall leave in search of some 

refuge where your very memory shall disappear from my mind You will be free, you can 

exercise your criminal desires with impunity Yes, I shall forget you, if I can, oh heartless 

man. Or, if your painful image remains graven in my heart, if it still pursues me in my distant 
darkness, I shall not obliterate it, traitor, that effort is beyond my abilities; no, I shall not 
obliterate it, but I shall punish my own blindness, and shall bury in the horror of the grave 
the guilty altar which committed the error of holding you too dear. . . ." 

With these words, the final outcry of a soul overwhelmed by a recent illness, the poor 
woman fainted and fell unconscious to the floor. The cold shadows of death spread over the 
roses of her beautiful complexion, already withered by the stings of despair. She appeared 
little more than a lifeless mass, from which, however, grace, modesty, and seemliness ... all 
the attributes of virtue, had refused to flee. The monster left the room and repaired to his 
own chambers, there to enjoy, with his guilty daughter, the terrible triumph which vice, or 
rather low villainy, dared to win over innocence and unhappiness. 

Franval's abominable daughter infinitely savored the details of this encounter. She only 
wished she could have seen them. She would have liked to carry the horror even further and 
see Valmont vanquish her mother's resistance, and then have Franval surprise them in the 
act. What means, if that were to happen, what means of justification would their victim then 
have had left? And was it not important for them to deprive her of any and all means? Such 
was Eugenie. 

Meanwhile, Franval's poor wife had only the refuge of her mother's breast for her tears, 
and it was not long before she revealed to her the reasons for her latest sorrow. It was at this 
juncture that Madame de Farneille came to the conclusion that Monsieur de Clervil's age, his 
calling, and his personal prestige perhaps might exercise a certain good influence on her son- 
in-law. Nothing is more confident than adversity. As best she could, she apprised this worthy 
ecclesiastic of the truth about Franval's chaotic conduct; she convinced him of the truth 
which he had hitherto been disinclined to believe, and she beseeched him above all to employ 
with such a scoundrel only that persuasive eloquence which appeals to the heart rather than 
to the head. And after he had talked with this traitor, she suggested that Monsieur de Clervil 
solicit a meeting with Eugenie, during which he could similarly put to use whatever he 
should deem most appropriate toward enlightening the poor child as to the abyss that had 
opened beneath her feet and, if possible, to bring her back to her mother's heart and to the 
path of virtue. 

Franval, informed that Clervil intended to request to see both him and his daughter, had 
time enough to conspire with Eugenie, and when they had settled on their plans they sent 
word to Madame de Farneille that both were prepared to hear him out. The credulous 
Madame de Franval held out the highest hopes for the eloquence of this spiritual guide. The 
wretched are wont to seize at straws with such avidity, in order to procure for themselves a 
pleasure which the truth disowns, that they fabricate most cunningly all sorts of illusions! 

Clervil arrived. It was nine in the morning. Franval received him in the room where he was 
accustomed to spending the night with his daughter. He had embellished it with every 
imaginable elegance, but had nonetheless allowed it to retain a certain disorder which bore 
witness to his criminal pleasures. In a neighboring room, Eugenie could hear everything, the 
better to prepare herself for the conversation with her which was due to follow. 

"It is only most reluctantly, and with the greatest fear of disturbing you, Monsieur," Clervil 
began, "that I dare to present myself before you. Persons of our calling are commonly so 
much a burden to those who, like yourself, spend their lives tasting the pleasures of this 

world, that I reproach myself for having consented to Madame de Farneille's desires and 
having requested to converse with you for a moment or two." 

"Please sit down, Monsieur, and so long as reason and justice hold sway in your 
conversation, you need never fear of boring me." 

"Sir, you are beloved of a young wife full of charm and virtue and whom, it is alleged, you 
make most miserable. Having as arms naught but her innocence and her candor, and with 
only a mother's ear to hear her complaints, still idolizing you despite your wrongs, you can 
easily imagine the frightful position in which she finds herself!" 

"If you please, Monsieur, I should like us to get down to the facts. I have the feeling you 
are skirting the issue; pray tell me, what is the purpose of your mission?" 

"To bring you back to happiness, if that is possible." 

"Therefore, if I find myself happy in my present situation, may I assume that you should 
have nothing further to say to me?" 

"It is impossible, Monsieur, to find happiness in the exercise of crime." 

"I agree. But the man who, through profound study and mature reflection, has been able to 
bring his mind to the point where he does not see evil in anything, where he contemplates 
the whole of human endeavor with the most supreme indifference and considers every action 
of which man is capable as the necessary result of a power, whatever its nature, which is at 
times good and at times bad, but always imperious, inspires us alternately with what men 
approve and what they condemn, but never anything that disturbs or troubles it— that man, I 
say, and I'm sure you will agree, can be just as happy living the way I do as you are in your 
chosen calling. Happiness is ideal, it is the work of the imagination. It is a manner of being 
moved which relies solely upon the way we see and feel. Except for the satisfaction of needs, 
there is nothing which makes all men equally happy. Not a day goes by but that we see one 
person made happy by something that supremely displeases another. Therefore, there is no 
certain or fixed happiness, and the only happiness possible for us is the one we form with the 
help of our organs and our principles." 

"I know that, Monsieur, but though our mind may deceive us, our conscience never leads 
us astray, and here is the book wherein Nature has inscribed all our duties." 

"And do we not manipulate this factitious conscience at will? Habit bends it, it is for us like 
soft wax which our fingers shape as they choose. If this book were as certain as you pretend, 
would man not be endowed with an invariable conscience? From one end of the earth to the 
other, would not all of man's actions be the same for him? And yet is such truly the case? 
Does the Hottentot tremble at what terrifies the Frenchman? And does the Frenchman not 
do daily what would be punishable in Japan? No, Monsieur, no, there is nothing real in the 
world, nothing deserving of praise or approbation, nothing worthy of being rewarded or 
punished, nothing which, unjust here, is not quite lawful five hundred leagues away. In a 
word, no wrong is real, no good is constant." 

"Do not believe it, Sir. Virtue is not an illusion. It is not a matter of ascertaining whether 
something is good here, or bad a few degrees farther away, in order to assign it a precise 
determination of crime or virtue, and to make certain of finding happiness therein by reason 
of the choice one has made of it. Man's only happiness resides in his complete submission to 
the laws of his land. He has either to respect them or to be miserable, there is no middle 
ground between their infraction and misfortune. 'Tis not, if you prefer to state it in these 
terms, these things in themselves which give rise to the evils which overwhelm us whenever 
we allow ourselves free reign to indulge in these forbidden practices, 'tis rather the conflict 
between these things— which may be intrinsically either good or bad— and the social 

conventions of the society in which we live. One can surely do no harm by preferring to stroll 
along the boulevards than along the Champs Elysees. And yet if a law were passed forbidding 
our citizens from frequenting the boulevards, whosoever should break this law might be 
setting in motion an eternal chain of misfortunes for himself, although in breaking it he had 
done something quite simple. Moreover, the habit of breaking ordinary restrictions soon 
leads to the violation of more serious ones, and from error to error one soon arrives at crimes 
of a nature to be punished in any country under the sun and to inspire fear in any reasonable 
creature on earth, no matter in what clime he may dwell. If man does not have a universal 
conscience, he at least has a national conscience, relative to the existence that we have 
received from Nature, and in which her hand inscribes our duties in letters which we cannot 
efface without danger. For example, Monsieur, your family accuses you of incest. It makes no 
difference what sophistries you employ to justify this crime or lessen the horror, or what 
specious arguments you apply to it or what authorities you call upon by buttressing these 
arguments with examples drawn from neighboring countries, the fact remains that this 
crime, which is only a crime in certain countries, is most assuredly dangerous wherever the 
law forbids it. It is no less certain that it can give rise to the most frightful consequences, as 
well as other crimes necessitated by this first one . . . crimes, I might add, of a sort to be 
deemed abominable by all men. Had you married your daughter on the banks of the Ganges, 
where such marriages are permitted, perhaps you might have committed only a minor wrong. 
But in a country where these unions are forbidden, by offering this revolting spectacle to the 
public . . . and to the eyes of a woman who adores you and who, by this treacherous act, is 
being pushed to the edge of the grave, you are no doubt committing a frightful act, a crime 
which tends to break the holiest bonds of Nature: those which, attaching your daughter to her 
who gave her life, ought to make this person the most respected, the most sacred of all 
objects to her. You oblige this girl to despise her most precious duties, you cause her to hate 
the very person who bore her in her womb; without realizing it, you are preparing weapons 
that she may one day direct against you. In every doctrine you offer her, in every principle 
you inculcate in her, your condemnation is inscribed. And if one day her arm is raised against 
you in an attempt against your life, 'tis you who will have sharpened the dagger." 

"Your way of reasoning, so different from that of most men of the cloth," Franval replied, 
"compels me to trust in you, Monsieur. I could deny your accusations. I hope that the 
frankness with which I reveal myself to you will also oblige you to believe the wrongs I 
impute to my wife when, to expose them, I employ the same truthfulness with which I intend 
to characterize my own confessions. Yes, Monsieur, I love my daughter, I love her 
passionately, she is my mistress, my wife, my daughter, my confidante, my friend, my only 
God on earth; in fine, she possesses all the homage that any heart can ever hope to obtain, 
and all homage of which my heart is capable is due her. These sentiments will endure as long 
as I live. Being unable to give them up, I doubtless must therefore justify them. 

"A father's first duty toward his daughter is undeniably— I'm sure you will agree, Monsieur 
—to procure for her the greatest happiness possible. If he does not succeed in this task, then 
he has failed in his obligations toward her; if he does succeed, then he is blameless. I have 
neither seduced nor constrained Eugenie— this is a noteworthy consideration, which I trust 
you will not forget. I did not conceal the world from her. I expounded for her the good and 
bad sides of marriage, the roses and the thorns it contains. It was then I offered myself, and 
left her free to choose. She had adequate time to reflect on the matter. She did not hesitate: 
she claimed that she could find happiness only with me. Was I wrong to give her, in order to 
make her happy, what she appeared in full knowledge to desire above all else?" 

"These sophistries justify nothing, Monsieur. You were wrong to give your daughter the 
slightest inclination that the person she could not prefer without crime might become the 
object of her happiness. No matter how lovely a fruit might appear, would you not regret 
having offered it to someone if you knew that lurking within its flesh was death? No, 
Monsieur, no: in this whole wretched affair you have had only one object in mind, and that 
object was you, and you have made your daughter both an accomplice and a victim. These 

methods are inexcusable And what wrongs, in your eyes, do you ascribe to that virtuous 

and sensitive wife whose heart you twist and break at will? What wrongs, unjust man, except 
the wrong of loving you?" 

"This is the point I wish to discuss with you, Sir, and 'tis here I expect and hope for your 
confidence. After the full candor to which I have treated you, in making a full confession of 
all that is ascribed to me, I trust I have some right to expect such confidence." 

And then Franval, showing Clervil the forged letters and notes he had attributed to his 
wife, swore to him that nothing was more authentic than these documents, and than the 
affair between Madame de Franval and the person who was the subject of the papers. 

Clervil was familiar with the entire matter. 

"Well, Monsieur," he said firmly to Franval, "was I not right to tell you that an error viewed 
at first as being without consequence in itself can, by accustoming us to exceed limits, lead us 
to the most extravagant excesses of crime and wickedness? You have begun with an act 
which, in your eyes, you deemed totally inoffensive, and you see to what infamous lengths 
you are obliged to go in order to justify or conceal it? Follow my advice, Monsieur, throw 
these unpardonable atrocities into the fire and, I beg of you, let us forget them, let us forget 
they ever existed." 

"These documents are authentic, Monsieur." 

"They are false." 

"You can only be in doubt about them. Is that sufficient reason for you to contradict me?" 

"Pardon me, Monsieur, but the only reason I have to suppose they are authentic is your 
word on the matter, and you have good reason indeed for buttressing your accusation. As for 
believing them false, I have your wife's word for it, and she too would have good reason to 
tell me if they were authentic, if they actually were. This, Sir, is how I judge. Self-interest is 
the vehicle for all man's actions, the wellspring of everything he does. Wherever I can 
discover it, the torch of truth immediately lights up. This rule has never once failed me, and I 
have been applying it for forty years. And furthermore, will your wife's virtue not annihilate 
this loathsome calumny in everyone's eyes? And is it possible that your wife, with her 
frankness and her candor, with indeed the love for you which still burns within her, could 
ever have committed such abominable acts as those you charge her with? No, Monsieur, this 
is not how crime begins. Since you are so familiar with its effects, you should maneuver more 

"That, Sir, is abusive language." 

"You'll forgive me, Monsieur, but injustice, calumny, libertinage revolt my soul so 
completely that I sometimes find it hard to control the agitation which these horrors incite in 
me. Let us burn these papers, Monsieur, I most urgently beseech you . . . burn them for your 
honor and your peace of mind." 

"I never suspected, Monsieur," said Franval, getting to his feet, "that in the exercise of your 
ministry one could so easily become an apologist . . . the protector of misconduct and of 
adultery. My wife is dishonoring me, she is ruining me. I have proved it to you. Your 
blindness concerning her makes you prefer to accuse me and rather suppose that 'tis I who 

am the slanderer than she the treacherous and debauched woman. All right, Monsieur, the 
law shall decide. Every court in France shall resound with my accusations, I shall come 
bearing proof, I shall publish my dishonor, and then we shall see whether you will still be 
guileless enough, or rather foolish enough, to protect so shameless a creature against me." 

"I shall leave you now, Monsieur," Clervil said, also getting to his feet. "I did not realize to 
what extent the faults of your mind had so altered the qualities of your heart and that, 
blinded by an unjust desire for revenge, you had become capable of coolly maintaining what 

could only derive from delirium Ah! Monsieur, how all this has persuaded me all the 

more that when man oversteps the bounds of his most sacred duties, he soon allows himself 

to annihilate all the others If further reflection should bring you back to your senses, I 

beg of you to send word to me, Monsieur, and you will always find, in your family as well as 
in myself, friends disposed to receive you. May I be allowed to see Mademoiselle your 
daughter for a moment?" 

"You, Sir, may do as you like. I would only suggest, nay urge you that when talking with 
her you either employ more eloquent means or draw upon sounder resources in presenting 
these luminous truths to her, truths in which I was unfortunate enough to perceive naught 
but blindness and sophistries." 

Clervil went into Eugenie's room. She awaited him dressed in the most elegant and most 
coquettish negligee. This sort of indecency, the fruit of self-negligence and of crime, reigned 
unashamedly in her every gesture and look, and the perfidious girl, insulting the graces which 
embellished her in spite of herself, combined both the qualities susceptible of inflaming vice 
and those certain to revolt virtue. 

Since it was not appropriate for a girl to engage in so detailed a discussion as a philosopher 
such as Franval had done, Eugenie confined herself to persiflage. She gradually became 
openly provocative, but upon seeing that her seductions were in vain, and that a man as 
virtuous as the one with whom she was dealing had not the slightest intention of allowing 
himself to be ensnared in her trap, she adroitly cut the knots holding the veil of her charms 
and, before Clervil had the time to realize what she was doing, she had arranged herself in a 
state of great disorder. 

"The wretch," she cried at the top of her lungs, "take this monster away from me! And, 
above all, let not my father know of his crime. Just Heaven! I was expecting pious counsel 

from him . . . and the vile man assaulted my modesty Look," she cried to the servants who 

had hastened to her room upon hearing her cries, "look at the condition this shameless 
creature has put me in. Look at them, look at these benevolent disciples of a divinity they 
insult and outrage. Scandal, debauchery, seduction: there is the trinity of their morality, while 
we, dupes of their false virtue, are foolish enough to go on worshiping them." 

Clervil, although extremely annoyed by such a scene, nonetheless succeeded in concealing 
his emotions. And as he left the room he said, with great self-possession, to the crowd around 

"May heaven preserve this unfortunate child May it make her better if it can, and let 

no one in this house offend her sentiments of virtue more than I have done . . . sentiments 
that I came here less to defile than to revive in her heart." 

Such were the only fruits which Madame de Farneille and her daughter culled from a 
negotiation they had approached so hopefully. They were far from realizing the degradations 
that crime works in the souls of the wicked: what might have some effect on others only 
embitters them, and it is in the very lessons of good that they find encouragement to do evil. 

From then on, everything turned more venomous on both sides. Franval and Eugenie 

clearly saw that Madame de Franval would have to be persuaded of her alleged wrongs, in a 
way that would no longer allow her to doubt of the matter. And Madame de Farneille, in 
concert with her daughter, concocted serious plans to abduct Eugenie. They discussed the 
project with Clervil; this worthy man refused to have any part of such drastic resolutions. He 
had, he said, been too badly treated in this affair to be able to undertake anything more than 
imploring forgiveness for the guilty, and this he urgently did pray for, steadfastly refusing to 
involve himself in any other duty or effort of mediation. How sublime were his sentiments! 
Why is it that this nobility is so rare among men of the cloth? Or why had so singular a man 
chosen so soiled a calling? 

Let us begin with Franval's endeavors. 

Valmont reappeared. 

"You're an imbecile," Eugenie's guilty lover said to him, "you are unworthy of being my 
student. And if you do not come off better in a second meeting with my wife, I shall trumpet 
your name all over Paris. You must have her, my friend, and I mean really have her, my eyes 
must be persuaded of her defeat ... in fine, I must be able to deprive that loathsome creature 
of any means of excuse and of defense." 

"And what if she resists?" Valmont responded. 

"Then employ violence ... I shall make certain that there is no one around Frighten 

her, threaten her, what does it matter? ... I shall consider all the means of your triumph as 
so many favors I owe you." 

"Listen," Valmont then said, "I agree to everything you propose, I give you my word of 
honor that your wife will yield. But I require one condition, and if you refuse it then I refuse 
to play the game. We agreed that jealousy is to have no part in our arrangements, as you 
know. I therefore demand that you accord me half an hour with Eugenie. You have no idea 
how I shall act after I have enjoyed the pleasure of your daughter's company for a short 
while " 

"But Valmont . . ." 

"I can understand your fears. But if you deem me your friend I shall not forgive you for 
them. All I aspire to is the charm of seeing Eugenie alone and talking with her for a few 

"Valmont," said Franval, somewhat astonished, "you place too high a fee on your services. I 
am as fully aware as you of the ridiculous aspects of jealousy, but I idolize the girl you are 
referring to, and I should rather give up my entire fortune than yield her favors." 

"I am not claiming them, so set your mind at rest." 

And Franval, who realized that, among all his friends and acquaintances, there was none 
capable of serving his purposes so well as Valmont, was adamantly opposed to letting him 

"All right," he said, a trifle testily, "but I repeat that your services come very dear, and by 
discharging them in this manner you have relieved me from any obligation toward you, and 
from any gratitude." 

"Oh! gratitude is naught but the price paid for honest favors. It will never be kindled in 
your heart for the services I am going to render you. And I shall even go so far as to predict 
that these selfsame services will cause us to quarrel before two months are up. Come, my 
friend, I know the ways of men . . . their faults and failings, and everything they involve. Place 
the human animal, the most wicked animal of all, in whatever situation you choose, and I 

shall predict every last result that will perforce ensue Therefore I wish to be paid in 

advance, or the game is off." 

"I accept," said Franval. 

"Very well then," Valmont replied. "Now everything depends on you. I shall act whenever 
you wish." 

"I need a few days to make my preparations," Franval said. "But within four days at the 
most I am with you." 

Monsieur de Franval had raised his daughter in such a way that he had no misgivings 
about any excessive modesty on her part which would cause her to refuse to participate in the 
plans he was formulating with his friend. But he was jealous, and this Eugenie knew. She 
loved him at least as much as he adored her, and as soon as she knew what was in the offing 
she confessed to Franval that she was terribly afraid this tete-a-tete with Valmont might have 
serious repercussions. Franval, who believed he knew Valmont well enough to be persuaded 
that all this would only provide certain nourishments for his head without any danger to his 
heart, reassured his daughter as best he could, and went about his preparations. 

It was then that Franval learned, from servants in whom he had complete confidence and 
whom he had planted in the service of his mother-in-law, that Eugenie was in the gravest 
danger and that Madame de Farneille was on the verge of obtaining a writ to have her taken 
away from him. Franval had no doubt but that the whole plot was Clervil's work. And 
momentarily putting aside his plans involving Valmont, he turned his complete attention to 
ridding himself of this poor ecclesiastic whom he wrongly judged to be the instigator of 
everything. He sowed his gold; this powerful weapon of every vice is properly planted in a 
thousand different hands, and finally six trustworthy scoundrels are ready and willing to do 
his bidding. 

One evening when Clervil, who was wont to dine rather frequently with Madame de 

Farneille, was leaving her house alone and on foot, he was surrounded and seized He was 

told that the arrest was made upon the orders of the government, and shown a forged 
document. Then he was thrown into a post chaise and he was driven in all haste to the prison 
of an isolated chateau which Franval owned in the depths of the Ardennes. There the poor 
man was turned over to the concierge of the chateau as a scoundrel who was plotting to kill 
his master. And the most careful precautions were taken to make certain that this 
unfortunate victim, whose only wrong was to have shown himself overly indulgent toward 
those who outraged him so cruelly, could never again be seen. 

Madame de Farneille was on the brink of despair. She had not the slightest doubt but that 
the whole affair was the work of her son-in-law. Her efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of 
Clervil slowed those touching upon Eugenie's abduction. Having at her disposal only a 
limited amount of money, and with only a few friends, it was difficult to pursue two equally 
important undertakings at once. And furthermore, Franval's drastic action had forced them 
onto the defensive. They directed all their energies, therefore, toward finding the father 
confessor. But all their efforts were in vain; our villain had executed his plan so cleverly that 
it became impossible to uncover the slightest trace. 

Madame de Franval, who had not seen her husband since their last scene, was hesitant to 
question him. But the intensity of one's interest in a matter destroys any other 
considerations, and she finally found the courage to ask her tyrant if he planned to add to the 
already long list of grievances of which he was guilty on her behalf by depriving her mother of 
the best friend she had in the world. The monster protested his innocence. He even carried 
hypocrisy so far as to offer to help in the search. And seeing that he needed to mollify his 
wife's hardened heart and mind in preparation for the scene with Valmont, he again promised 
her that he would do everything in his power to find Clervil. He even caressed his credulous 

wife, and assured her that, no matter how unfaithful he might be to her, he found it 
impossible, deep in his heart, not to adore her. And Madame de Franval, always gentle and 
accommodating, always pleased by anything which brought her closer to a man who was 
dearer to her than life itself, gave herself over to all the desires of this perfidious husband; 
she anticipated them, served them, shared them all, without daring, as she should have, to 
profit from the occasion in order at least to extract a promise from this barbarian to improve 
his ways, one which would not precipitate his poor wife each day into an abyss of torment 
and sorrow. But even had she extracted such a promise, would her efforts have been crowned 
with success? Would Franval, so false in every other aspect of his life, have been any more 
sincere in the one which, according to him, was only attractive to the extent one could go 
beyond certain set limits. He would doubtless have made all sorts of promises solely for the 
pleasure of being able to break them; and perhaps he might even have made her demand that 
he swear to them, so that to his other frightful pleasures he might add that of perjury. 

Franval, absolutely at peace, turned all his attention to troubling others. Such was his 
vindictive, turbulent, impetuous nature when he was disturbed; desiring to regain his 
tranquillity at any cost whatever, he would awkwardly obtain it only by those means most 
likely to make him lose it again. And if he regained it? Then he bent all his physical and moral 
faculties to making certain he lost it again. Thus, in a state of perpetual agitation, he either 
had to forestall the artifices he obliged others to employ against him, or else he had to use 
some of his own against them. 

Everything was arranged to Valmont's satisfaction; his tete-a-tete took place in Eugenie's 
apartment and lasted for the better part of an hour. 

There, in the ornate room, Eugenie, on a pedestal, portrayed a young savage weary of the 
hunt, leaning on the trunk of a palm tree whose soaring branches concealed an infinite 
number of lights arranged in such a way that their reflections, which shone only on the 
beautiful girl's physical charms, accentuated them most artfully. The sort of miniature 
theater wherein this tableau vivant appeared was surrounded by a six-foot-wide moat which 
was filled with water and acted as a barrier which prevented anyone from approaching her 
on any side. At the edge of this circumvallation was placed the throne of a knight, with a silk 
cord leading from the base of the pedestal to the chair. By manipulating this string, the 
person in the chair could cause the pedestal to turn in such a manner that the object of his 
admiration could be viewed from every angle by him, and the arrangement was such that, 
no matter which way he turned her, she was always delightful to behold. The Count, 
concealed behind a decorative shrub, was in a position to view both his mistress and his 
friend. According to the agreement, Valmont was free to examine Eugenie for half an hour. . . 
. Valmont took his place in the chair . . . he is beside himself; never, he maintains, has he seen 
so many allurements in one person. He yields to the transports which inflame him, the 
constantly moving cord offers him an endless succession of new angles and beauties. Which 
should he prefer above all others, to which shall he sacrifice himself? He cannot make up his 
mind: Eugenie is such a wondrous beauty! Meanwhile the fleeting minutes pass; for time, in 
such circumstances, passes quickly. The hour strikes, the knight abandons himself, and the 
incense flies to the feet of a god whose sanctuary is forbidden him. A veil descends, it is time 
to leave the room. 

"Well, are you content now?" Franval said, rejoining his friend. 

"She is a delightful creature," Valmont replied. "But Franval, if I may offer you one piece of 

advice, never chance such a thing with any other man. And congratulate yourself for the 
sentiments I have for you in my heart, which protect you from all danger." 

"I am counting on them," Franval said rather seriously. "And now, you must act as soon as 
you can." 

"I shall prepare your wife tomorrow. ... It is your feeling that a preliminary conversation 

is required Four days later you can be sure of me." 

They exchanged vows and took leave of each other. 

But after his hour with Eugenie, Valmont had not the slightest desire to seduce Madame 
de Franval or further to assure his friend of a conquest of which he had become only too 
envious. Eugenie had made such a profound impression upon him that he was unable to put 
her out of his mind, and he was resolved to have her, no matter what the cost, as his wife. 
Recollecting upon the matter in tranquillity, once he was no longer repelled by the idea of 
Eugenie's affair with her father, Valmont was quite certain that his fortune was equal to that 
of Colunce and that he had just as much right to demand her hand in marriage. He therefore 
presumed that were he to offer himself as her husband, he could not be refused. He also 
concluded that by acting zealously to break Eugenie's incestuous bonds, by promising her 
family that he could not but succeed in such an undertaking, he would inevitably obtain the 
object of his devotion. There would, of course, be a duel to be fought with Franval, but 
Valmont was confident that his courage and skill would successfully overcome that obstacle. 

Twenty-four hours sufficed for these reflections, and 'twas with these thoughts crowding 
through his mind that Valmont set off to visit Madame de Franval. She had been informed of 
his impending call. It will be recalled that in her last conversation with her husband, she had 
almost become reconciled with him; or, rather, having yielded to the insidious cunning of this 
traitor, she was no longer in a position to refuse to see Valmont. As an objection to such a 
visit, she brought up the remarks and the ideas that Franval had advanced, and the letters he 
had shown her; but he, with seeming unconcern, had more than reassured her that the surest 
way of convincing people that there was absolutely nothing to her alleged affair with Valmont 
was to see him exactly as before; to refuse to do so, he assured her, would only lend credence 
to their suspicions. The best proof a woman can provide of her chastity, he told her, was to 
continue seeing in public the man to whom her name had been linked. All this was so much 
sophistry, and Madame de Franval was perfectly well aware of it. Still, she was hoping for 
some explanation from Valmont, and her desire to obtain it, coupled with her desire not to 
anger her husband, had blinded her to all the good reasons that should normally have kept 
her from seeing Valmont. 

Thus Valmont arrived to pay his call, and Franval quickly left them alone as he had the 
previous time: the explanations and clarifications were sure to be lively and long. Valmont, 
his head bursting with the ideas which had filled it during the previous twenty-four hours, 
cut short the formalities and came straight to the point. 

"Oh, Madame! Do not think of me as the same man who, the last time he saw you, 
conducted himself so guiltily in your eyes," he hastened to say. "Then I was the accomplice of 
your husband's wrongdoings; today I come to repair those wrongs. Have confidence in me, 
Madame, I beseech you to believe my word of honor that I have come here neither to lie to 
you nor to deceive you in any way." 

Then he confessed to the forged letters and promissory notes and apologized profusely for 
having allowed himself to be implicated in the affair. He warned Madame of the new horrors 
they had demanded of him, and as a proof of his candor, he confessed his feelings for 
Eugenie, revealed what had already been done, and pledged his word to break off everything, 

to abduct Eugenie from Franval and spirit her away to one of Madame de Farneille's estates 
in Picardy, if both these worthy ladies would grant him the permission to do so, and as a 
reward would bestow on him in marriage the girl whom he would thus have rescued from the 
edge of the abyss. 

Valmont's declarations and confessions had such a ring of truth about them that Madame 
de Franval could not help but be convinced. Valmont was an excellent match for her 
daughter. After Eugenie's wretched conduct, had she even a right to expect as much? Valmont 
would assume the responsibility for everything; there was no other way to put a stop to this 
frightful crime which was driving her to distraction. Moreover, could she not flatter herself 
that, once the only affair which could really become dangerous both for her and her husband 
had been broken off, his sentiments might once again be directed toward her? This last 
consideration tipped the scales in favor of Valmont's plan, and she gave her consent, but only 
on condition that Valmont give her his word not to fight a duel with her husband and that, 
after he had delivered Eugenie into Madame de Farneille's hands, he would go abroad and 
remain there until Franval's fury had abated sufficiently to console himself for the loss of his 
illicit love and finally consent to the marriage. Valmont agreed to everything; and for her part, 
Madame de Franval assured him of her mother's full co-operation and promised that she 
would in no wise oppose or obstruct any of the decisions they came to together. Upon which 
Valmont left, after again apologizing for having acted so basely against her by participating in 
her unprincipled husband's schemes. 

Madame de Farneille, who was immediately apprised of the affair, left the following day 
for Picardy, and Franval, caught up in the perpetual whirlwind of his pleasures, counting 
solidly on Valmont and no longer fearful of Clervil, cast himself into the trap prepared for 
him with the same guilelessness which he had so often desired to see in others when, in his 
turn, he had been making his preparations to ensnare them. 

For about six months Eugenie, who was now just shy of turning seventeen, had been going 
out alone or in the company of a few of her female friends. On the eve of the day when 
Valmont, in accordance with the arrangements made with her father, was to launch his 
assault upon Madame de Franval, Eugenie had gone alone to see a new play at the Comedie- 
Francaise. She likewise left the theater alone, having arranged to meet her father at a given 
place from which they were to drive elsewhere to dine together. . . . Shortly after her carriage 
had left the Faubourg Saint-Germain, ten masked men stopped the horses, opened the 
carriage door, seized Eugenie, and bundled her into a post chaise beside Valmont who, taking 
every precaution to keep her from crying out, ordered the post chaise to set off with all 
possible speed, and in the twinkling of an eye they were out of Paris. 

Unfortunately, it had been impossible to get rid of Eugenie's retainers or her carriage, and 
as a result Franval was notified very quickly. Valmont, to make a safe escape, had counted 
both on Franval's uncertainty as to the route he would take and the two or three hour 
advance that he would necessarily have. If only he could manage to reach Madame de 
Farneille's estate, that was all he would need, for from there two trustworthy women and a 
stagecoach were waiting for Eugenie to drive her toward the border, to a sanctuary with 
which even he was unfamiliar. Meanwhile, Valmont would go immediately to Holland, 
returning only to marry Eugenie when Madame de Farneille and her daughter informed him 
there were no further obstacles. But fate allowed these well laid plans to come to grief 
through the designs of the horrible scoundrel with whom we are dealing. 

When the news reached him, Franval did not lose a second. He rushed to the post house 
and asked for what routes horses had been given since six o'clock that evening. At seven, a 

traveling coach had departed for Lyon; at eight, a post chaise for Picardy. Franval did not 
hesitate: the coach for Lyon was certainly of no interest to him, but a post chaise heading 
toward a province where Madame de Farneille had an estate, yes, that was it: to doubt it 
would have been madness. 

He therefore promptly had the eight best horses at the post hitched up to the carriage in 
which he was riding, ordered saddles for his servants and, while the horses were being 
harnessed, purchased and loaded some pistols. And then he set off like an arrow, drawn by 
love, despair, and a thirst for revenge. When he stopped to change horses at Senlis, he learned 

that the post chaise he was pursuing had only just left Franval ordered his men to 

proceed at top speed. Unfortunately for him, he overtook the post chaise; both he and his 
servants, with drawn pistols, stopped Valmont's coach, and as soon as the impetuous Franval 
recognized his adversary, he blew his brains out before Valmont had a chance to defend 
himself, seized Eugenie, who was faint with fright, tossed her into his own carriage, and was 
back in Paris before ten o'clock the following morning. Not in the least apprehensive about all 

that had just happened, Franval devoted his full attention to Eugenie Had the traitorous 

Valmont tried to take advantage of the circumstances? Was Eugenie still faithful, and were 
his guilty bonds still intact and unsullied? Mademoiselle de Franval reassured her father: 
Valmont had done no more than reveal his plans to her and, full of hope that he would soon 
be hers in marriage, he refrained from profaning the altar whereon he wished to offer his 
pure vows. 

Franval was reassured by her solemn oaths. . . . But what about his wife? . . . Was she 
aware of these machinations? was she involved in them in any way? Eugenie, who had had 
ample time to inform herself on this matter, guaranteed that the entire plot had been the 
work of her mother, upon whom she showered the most odious names. She also declared that 
that fateful meeting between Valmont and her mother, wherein the former was, so Franval 
thought, preparing to serve him so well, had in fact been the meeting during which Valmont 
had most shamelessly betrayed him. 

"Ah!" said Franval, beside himself with anger, "if only he had a thousand lives ... I would 
wrench them from him one after the other. . . . And my wife! Here I was trying to lull her, and 
she was the first to deceive me . . . that creature people think so soft and gentle . . . that angel 
of virtue! . . . Ah, traitor, you female traitor, you will pay dearly for your crime. . . . My revenge 
calls for blood, and, if I must, I shall draw it with my own lips from your treacherous veins. . . 
. Do not be upset, Eugenie," Franval went on in a state of great agitation, "yes, calm yourself, 
you need some rest. Go and take a few hours' rest, and I shall take care of everything." 

Meanwhile Madame de Farneille, who had stationed spies along the road, was soon 
informed of everything that had just happened. Knowing that her granddaughter had been 
recaptured and Valmont killed, she lost not a moment returning to Paris. . . . Furious, she 
immediately called her advisers together; they pointed out to her that Valmont's murder was 
going to deliver Franval into her hands, and that the influence she feared was shortly going to 
vanish and she would straightway regain control over both her daughter and Eugenie. But 
they counseled her to avoid a public scandal, and, for fear of a degrading trial, to solicit a writ 
that would put her son-in-law out of the way. 

Franval was immediately informed of this counsel and of the proceedings that were being 
taken as a result. Having learned both that his crime was known and that his mother-in-law 
was, so they told him, only waiting to take advantage of his disaster, Franval left with all 
dispatch for Versailles, where he saw the Minister and disclosed the whole affair to him. The 
Minister's reply was to advise Franval to waste no time leaving for one of his estates in 

Alsace, near the Swiss border. 

Franval returned home at once, having made up his mind not to leave without both his 
wife and his daughter, for a number of reasons: to make sure he would not miss out on his 
plans for revenge and the punishment he had reserved for his wife's treason, and also to be in 
possession of hostages dear enough to Madame de Farneille's heart so that she would not 
dare, at least politically, to instigate actions against him. But would Madame de Franval agree 
to accompany him to Valmor, the estate to which the Minister had suggested he retire? 
Feeling herself guilty of that kind of treason which had been the cause of everything which 
had happened, would she be willing to leave for such a distant place? Would she dare to 
entrust herself without fear to the arms of her outraged husband? Such were the 
considerations which worried Franval. To ascertain exactly where he stood, Franval at once 
went in to see his wife, who already knew everything. 

"Madame," he said to her coldly, "you have plunged me into an abyss of woe by your 
thoughtless indiscretions. While I condemn the effects, I nonetheless applaud the cause, 
which surely stems from your love both for your daughter and myself. And since the initial 
wrongs are mine, I must forget the second. My dear and tender wife, who art half my life," he 
went on, falling to his knees, "will you consent to a reconciliation which nothing can ever 
again disturb? I come here to offer you that reconciliation, and to seal it here is what I place 
in your hands. . . ." 

So saying he lays at his wife's feet all the forged papers and false correspondence with 

"Burn all these, my dear friend, I beseech you," the traitor went on, with feigned tears, 
"and forgive what jealousy drove me to. Let us banish all this bitterness between us. Great are 
my wrongs, that I confess. But who knows whether Valmont, to assure the success of his 

plans, has not painted an even darker picture of me than I truly deserve If he dared tell 

you that I have ever ceased to love you . . . that you were other than the most precious object 
in the world, and the one most worthy of respect— ah, my dear angel, if he sullied himself 
with calumnies such as these, then I say I have done well to rid the world of such a rogue and 

"Oh! Monsieur," Madame de Franval said in tears, "is it possible even to conceive the 
atrocities you devised against me? How do you expect me to have the least confidence in you 
after such horrors?" 

"Oh! most tender and loving of women, my fondest desire is that you love me still! What I 
desire is that, accusing my head alone for the multitude of my sins, you convince yourself 

that this heart, wherein you reign eternally, has ever been incapable of betraying you Yes, 

I want you to know that there is not one of my errors which has not brought me closer to you. 
. . . The more I withdrew from my dear wife, and the greater the distance between us became, 
the more I came to realize how impossible it was to replace her in any realm whatsoever. 
Neither the pleasures nor the sentiments equaled those that my inconstancy caused me to 

lose with her, and in the very arms of her image I regretted reality Oh! my dear, my divine 

friend, where else could I find a heart such as yours? Where else savor the pleasures one 
culls only in your arms? Yes, I forsake all my errors, my failings . . . henceforth I wish to live 
only for you in this world ... to restore in your wounded heart that love which my wrongs 
destroyed . . . wrongs whose very memory I now abjure." 

It was impossible for Madame de Franval to resist such tender effusions on the part of the 
man she still adored. Is it possible to hate what one has loved so dearly? Can a woman of her 
delicate and sensitive soul have naught but cold, unfeeling looks for the object which was 

once so precious to her, cast down at her feet, weeping bitter tears of remorse? She broke 

down and began to sob 

"I who have never ceased adoring you, you cruel and wicked man," she said, pressing her 
husband's hands to her heart, "'tis I whom you have wantonly driven to despair. Ah! Heaven 
is my witness that of all the scourges with which you might have afflicted me, the fear of 

losing your heart, of being suspected by you, became the most painful of all to bear And 

what object do you choose to outrage me with? . . . My daughter . . . 'tis with her hands you 
pierce my heart ... do you wish to oblige me to hate her whom Nature has made so dear to 

"Listen to me," Franval said, his tone waxing ever more ardent, "I want to bring her back to 
you on her knees, humbled, I want her to abjure, as I have done, both her shamelessness and 
her sins; I want her to obtain, as I have, your pardon. Let us henceforth concern ourselves, all 
three of us, with nothing but our mutual happiness. I am going to return your daughter to 
you . . . return my wife to me . . . and let us flee." 

"Flee, Great God!" 

"My adventure is stirring up trouble . . . tomorrow may already be too late My friends, 

the Minister, everyone has advised me to take a voyage to Valmor Please come with me, 

my love! Is it possible that at the very moment when I prostrate myself before you asking for 
your forgiveness you could break my heart by your refusal?" 

"You frighten me What, this adventure . . ." 

". . . is being treated not as a duel but as a murder." 

"Dear God! And I am the cause of it! . . . Give me your orders, do: dispose of me as you will, 
my dear husband. I am ready to follow you, to the ends of the earth, if need be. ... Ah! I am 
the most wretched woman alive!" 

"Consider yourself rather the most fortunate, since every moment of my life is henceforth 
going to be dedicated to changing into flowers the thorns which in the past I have strewn in 

your path Is a desert not enough, when two people love each other? Moreover, this is a 

situation which cannot last forever. I have friends who have been apprised . . . who are going 
to act." 

"But my mother ... I should like to see her. . . ." 

"No, my love, above all not that. I have positive proof that 'tis she who is stirring up 
Valmont's family against me, and that, with them, 'tis she who is working toward my 
destruction " 

"She is incapable of such baseness. Stop imagining such perfidious horrors. Her soul, 
totally disposed toward love, has never known deceit. . . . You never did appreciate her, 
Franval. If only you had learned to love her as I do! In her arms we both would have found 
true happiness on earth. She was the angel of peace that Heaven offered to the errors of your 
life. Your injustice rejected her proffered heart, which was always open to tenderness, and by 
inconsequence or caprice, by ingratitude or libertinage, you voluntarily turned your back on 

the best and most loving friend that Nature ever created for you Is it true then, you really 

don't want me to see her?" 

"No. I'm afraid I must insist. Time is too precious! You will write her, you will describe my 
repentance to her. Perhaps she will be moved by my remorse . . . perhaps I shall one day win 
back her love and esteem. The storm will one day abate, and we shall come back to Paris, and 
there, in her arms, we shall revel in her forgiveness and tenderness. . . . But now, let us be off, 
dear friend, we must be gone within the hour at most, the carriage awaits without " 

Terrified, Madame de Franval did not dare raise any further objections. She went about her 

preparations. Were not Franval's slightest wishes her commands? The traitor flew back to his 
daughter and brought her back to her mother. There the false creature throws herself at her 
mother's feet with full as much perfidy as had her father. She weeps, she implores her 
forgiveness, and she obtains it. Madame de Franval embraces her; how difficult it is to forget 
one is a mother, no matter how one's children have sinned against her. In a sensitive soul, 
the voice of Nature is so imperious that the slightest tear from these sacred objects of a 
mother's affection is enough to make her forget twenty years of faults and failings. 

They set off for Valmor. The extreme haste with which this voyage had been prepared 
justified in Madame de Franval's eyes, which were still as blind and credulous as ever, the 
paucity of servants that they took along with them. Crime shuns a plethora of eyes, and fears 
them all; feeling its security possible only in the darkness of mystery, it envelops itself in 
shadow whenever it desires to act. 

When they reached the country estate, nothing was changed, all was as he had promised: 
constant attentions, respect, solicitous care, evidence of tenderness on the one hand . . . and 
on the other, the most ardent love— all this was lavished on poor Madame de Franval, who 
easily succumbed to it. At the end of the world, far removed from her mother, in the depths of 
a terrible solitude, she was happy because, as she would say, she had her husband's heart 
again and because her daughter, constantly at her knees, was concerned solely with pleasing 

Eugenie's room and that of her father were no longer adjoining. Franval's room was at the 
far end of the chateau, Eugenie's was next to her mother's. At Valmor, the qualities of 
decency, regularity, and modesty replaced to the utmost degree all the disorders of the 
capital. Night after night Franval repaired to his wife's room and there, in the bosom of 
innocence, candor, and love, the scoundrel shamelessly dared to nourish her hopes with his 
horrors. Cruel enough not to be disarmed by those naive and ardent caresses which the most 
delicate of women lavished upon him, it was at the torch of love itself that the villain lighted 
the torch of vengeance. 

As one can easily imagine, however, Franval's attentions toward Eugenie had not 
diminished. In the morning, while her mother was occupied with her toilet, Eugenie would 
meet her father at the far end of the garden, and from him she would receive the necessary 
instructions and the favors which she was far from willing to cede completely to her rival. 

No more than a week after their arrival in this retreat, Franval learned that Valmont's 
family was prosecuting him unremittingly, and that the affair was going to be dealt with in a 
most serious manner. It was becoming difficult, so they said, to pass it off as a duel, for 
unfortunately there had been too many witnesses. Furthermore, so Franval was informed, 
beyond any shadow of a doubt Madame de Farneille was leading the pack of her son-in-law's 
enemies, her clear intention being to complete his ruin by putting him behind bars or 
obliging him to leave France, and thus to restore to her as soon as possible the two beloved 
creatures from whom she was presently separated. 

Franval showed these missives to his wife. She at once took out pen and paper to calm her 
mother, to urge her to see matters in a different light, and to depict for her the happiness she 
had been enjoying ever since misfortune had succeeded in mollifying the soul of her poor 
husband. Furthermore, she assured her mother that all her efforts to force her back to Paris 
with her daughter would be quite in vain, for she had resolved not to leave Valmor until her 
husband's difficulties had been settled, and ended by saying that if ever the malice of his 
enemies or the absurdity of his judges should cause a warrant for his arrest to be issued 
which was degrading to him, she had fully made up her mind to accompany him into exile. 

Franval thanked his wife. But having not the least desire to sit and wait for the fate that 
was being prepared for him, he informed her that he was going to spend some time in 
Switzerland. He would leave Eugenie in her care, and he begged both women, nay made them 
promise, not to leave Valmor so long as his fate was still in doubt. No matter what fate might 
decide for him, he said, he would still return to spend twenty-four hours with his dear wife, to 
consult with her as to the means for returning to Paris if nothing stood in the way or, if 
fortune had turned against him, for leaving to go and live somewhere in safety. 

Having taken these decisions, Franval, who had not for a moment forgotten that the sole 
cause of his misfortunes was his wife's rash and imprudent plot with Valmont, and who was 
still consumed with a desire for revenge, sent word to his daughter that he was waiting for 
her in the remote part of the park. He locked himself in an isolated summer house with her, 
and after having made her swear blind obedience to everything he was going to order her to 
do, he kissed her and spoke to her in the following manner: 

"You are about to lose me, my daughter, perhaps forever." 

And seeing tears welling up into Eugenie's eyes: 

"Calm yourself, my angel," he said to her, "our future happiness is in your hands, and in 
yours alone. Only you can determine whether we can again find the happiness that once was 
ours, whether it be in France or somewhere else. You, Eugenie, I trust are as persuaded as 
one can possibly be that your mother is the sole cause of our misfortunes. You know that I 
have not lost sight of my plans for revenge. If I have concealed these plans from my wife, you 
have been aware of my reasons and have approved of them; in fact 'twas you who helped me 
fashion the blindfold with which it seemed prudent to cover her eyes. The time has come to 
act, Eugenie, the end is at hand. Your future peace of mind and body depends on it, and what 
you are going to undertake will assure mine forever as well. You will, I trust, hear me out, and 
you are too intelligent a girl to be in the least alarmed by what I am about to propose. Yes, my 
child, the time has come to act, and act we must, without delay and without remorse, and this 
must be your work. 

"Your mother has wished to make you miserable, she has defiled the bonds to which she 
lays claim, and by so doing she has lost all rights to them. Henceforth she is not only no 
longer anything more than an ordinary woman for you, but she has even become your worst, 
your mortal enemy. Now, the law of Nature most deeply graven in our hearts is that we must 
above all rid ourselves, if we can, of those who conspire against us. This sacred law, which 
constantly moves and inspires us, does not instill within us the love of our neighbor as being 
above the love we owe ourselves. First ourselves, then the others: this is Nature's order of 
progression. Consequently, we must show no respect, no quarter for others as soon as they 
have shown that our misfortune or our ruin is the object of their desires. To act differently, 
my daughter, would be to show preference for others above ourselves, and that would be 
absurd. Now, let me come to the reasons behind the action I shall counsel you to take. 

"I am obliged to leave, and you know the reasons why. If I leave you with this woman, 
Eugenie, within the space of a month her mother will have enticed her back to Paris, and 
since, after the scandal that has just occurred, you can no longer marry, you can rest assured 
that these two cruel persons will gain ascendancy over you only to send you to a convent, 
there to weep over your weakness and repent of our pleasures. 'Tis your grandmother who 
hounds and pursues me, Eugenie, 'tis she who joins hands with my enemies to complete my 
destruction. Can such zeal, such methods have any purpose other than to regain possession 
of you, and can you doubt that once she has you she will have you confined? The worse 
things go with me, the more those who are persecuting and tormenting us will grow strong 

and increasingly influential. Now, it would be wrong to doubt that, inwardly, your mother is 
the brains behind this group, as it would be wrong to doubt that, once I have gone, she will 
rejoin them. And yet this faction desires my ruin only in order to make you the most 
wretched woman alive. Therefore we must lose no time in weakening it, and it will be 
deprived of its most sturdy pillar if your mother is removed from it. Can we opt for another 
course of action? Can I take you with me? Your mother will be most annoyed, will run back 
to her mother, and from that day on, Eugenie, we will never know another moment's peace. 
We will be persecuted and pursued from place to place, no country will have the right to offer 
us asylum, no refuge on the face of the earth will be held sacred . . . inviolable, in the eyes of 
the monsters whose fury will pursue us. Do you have any idea how far these odious arms of 
despotism and tyranny can stretch when they have the weight of gold behind them and are 
directed by malice? But with your mother dead, on the contrary, Madame de Farneille, who 
loves her more than she loves you and who has acted solely for her sake in this whole 
endeavor, seeing her faction deprived of the only person to whom she was really attached in 
the group, will abandon everything, will stop goading my enemies and arousing them against 
me. At this juncture, one of two things will happen: either the Valmont incident will be 
settled and we shall be able to return to Paris in safety, or else the case will become more 
serious, in which case we shall be obliged to leave France and go to another country, but at 
least we shall be safe from Madame de Farneille's machinations. But as long as her daughter 
is still alive, Madame de Farneille will have but a single purpose in mind, and that will be our 
ruin, because, once again, she believes that her daughter's happiness can be obtained only at 
the price of our downfall. 

"No matter from what angle we view our situation, then, you will see that Madame de 
Franval is the constant thorn in the side of our security, and her loathsome presence is the 
most certain obstacle to our happiness. 

"Eugenie, Eugenie," Franval continued warmly, taking his daughter's hands in his, "my 
dear Eugenie, you do love me. Do you therefore consent to lose forever the person who 
adores you, for fear of an act as essential to our interests? My dear and loving Eugenie, you 
must decide: you can keep only one of us. You are obliged to kill one of your parents, only the 
choice of which heart you shall choose as the target of your dagger yet remains. Either your 
mother must perish, or else you must give me up. . . . What am I saying? You will have to slit 

my throat Alas, could I live without you? Do you think it would be possible for me to live 

without my Eugenie? Could I endure the memory of the pleasures I have tasted in these 
arms, these delightful pleasures that I shall have lost forever? Your crime, Eugenie, your 
crime is the same in either case: either you must destroy a mother who loathes you and who 
lives only to make you unhappy, or else you must murder a father whose every breath is 
drawn only for you. Choose, Eugenie, go ahead and choose, and if 'tis I you condemn, then do 
not hesitate, ungrateful daughter: show no pity when you pierce this heart whose only wrong 
has been to love you too deeply; strike, and I shall bless the blows you strike, and with my 
last breath I shall say again how I adore you." 

Franval fell silent, to hear what his daughter would reply, but she seemed to be lost in deep 
thought. Finally she threw herself into her father's arms. 

"Oh, you, you whom I shall love all my life, can you doubt of the choice I shall make? Can 
you suspect my courage? Arm me at once, and she who, by her terrible deeds and the threat 
she poses to your safety, is proscribed will soon fall beneath my blows. Instruct me, Franval, 
tell me what to do; leave, since your safety demands it, and I shall act while you are gone. I 
shall keep you apprised of everything. But no matter what turn things may take, once our 

enemy has been disposed of, do not leave me alone in this chateau Come back for me, or 

send for me to come and join you wherever you may be." 

"My darling daughter," said Franval, kissing this monster who had shown herself to be an 
all too apt pupil of his seductions, "I knew that I would find in you all the sentiments of love 

and steadfastness of purpose necessary to our mutual happiness Take this box. Death lies 

within its lid " 

Eugenie took the fatal box and repeated her promises to her father. Other decisions were 
taken: it was decided that Eugenie would await the outcome of the trial, and that the decision 
as to whether the projected crime would take place or not would be dependent upon whether 

the decision was for or against her father They took leave of each other, Franval went to 

pay a call upon his wife, and there carried audacity and deceit so far as to inundate her with 
his tears, the while receiving from this heavenly angel, without once giving himself away, the 
touching caresses so full of candor which she lavished upon him. Then, having been given her 
solemn promise that she would most assuredly remain in Alsace with Eugenie no matter 
what the outcome of his case, the scoundrel mounted his horse and rode away, leaving 
behind him the innocence and virtue which his crimes had sullied so long. 

Franval proceeded to Basel, and there procured lodgings, for at Basel he was safe from any 
legal actions that might be instituted against him and at the same time was as close to 
Valmor as one could possibly be, so that his letters might maintain Eugenie in the frame of 
mind he desired to keep her in while he was away Basel and Valmor were about twenty- 
five leagues apart, and although the road between them went through the Black Forest, 
communications were easy enough, so that he was able to receive news of his daughter once 
a week. As a measure of precaution, Franval brought an enormous sum of money with him, 
but more in paper than in cash. Let us leave him then, getting settled in Switzerland, and 
return to his wife. 

Nothing could have been purer or more sincere than this excellent woman's intentions. 
She had promised her husband to remain in the country until he had given her further 
orders, and nothing in the world could have made her change her mind, as she was wont to 
assure Eugenie every day. . . . Unfortunately too far removed from her mother to place her 
trust in this worthy woman, still a party to Franval's injustice— the seeds of which he 
nourished by his letters sent regularly once a week— Eugenie did not for a moment entertain 
the thought that she could have a worse enemy in the world than her mother. And yet there 
was nothing her mother did not do to try and break down the invincible antipathy that this 
ungrateful child kept buried deep in her heart. She showered friendship and caresses on her, 
she expressed tender satisfaction with her over her husband's fortunate change of heart, she 
even went so far in her manifestations of gentleness and meekness as to thank Eugenie at 
times and give her all the credit for the happy conversion. And then she would grieve at being 
the innocent cause of the new calamities that were threatening Franval; far from accusing 
Eugenie, she put the entire onus on herself and, clasping Eugenie to her heart, she would 

tearfully ask her whether she could ever forgive her mother Eugenie's heart remained 

hardened to these angelic advances, and her perverse soul was deaf to the voice of Nature, for 

vice had closed off every avenue by which one might reach her Coldly withdrawing from 

her mother's arms, she would look at her with eyes that were often wild and would say to 
herself, by way of encouragement: How false this woman is . . . how full of deceit and 
treachery. The day she had me abducted she caressed me in exactly the same way. But these 
unjust reproaches were naught but the abominable sophisms with which crime steadies and 
supports itself whenever it tries to smother the conscience. Madame de Franval, whose 

motives in having Eugenie abducted were her own happiness and peace of mind, and in the 
interest of virtue, had, it is true, concealed her plans. But such pretense is condemned only by 
the guilty party who is deceived by it, and in no wise offends probity. Thus Eugenie resisted 
all her mother's proffered tenderness because she wanted to commit an atrocity, and not in 
the least because of any wrongs on the part of a mother who had surely committed none with 
regard to her. 

Toward the end of the first month of their stay at Valmor, Madame de Farneille wrote to 
her daughter that her husband's case was becoming increasingly serious and that, in view of 
the fear of an unfavorable decision by the court, the return of both Madame de Franval and 
Eugenie had become a matter of urgent necessity, not only to make an impression on the 
public, which was spreading the worst kind of gossip, but also to join forces with her and 
together seek some sort of arrangement that might be able to disarm the forces of justice, and 
answer for the culprit without sacrificing him. 

Madame de Franval, who had resolved not to conceal anything from her daughter, 
immediately showed her this letter. Staring coldly at her mother, Eugenie asked her evenly 
what she intended to do in view of this sad news? 

"I don't know," Madame de Franval replied. "But the fact is I wonder what good we are 
doing here? Would we not be serving my husband's interests far better by taking my mother's 

"'Tis you who are in full charge, Madame," Eugenie replied. "My role is to obey, and you 
may rest assured of my obedience." 

But Madame de Franval, clearly seeing from the curt manner of her daughter's reply that 
she was dead set against it, told her that she was going to wait, that she would write again, 
and that Eugenie could be quite sure that if ever she were to fail to follow Franval's 
intentions, it would only be when she was completely certain that she could serve him better 
in Paris than at Valmor. 

Another month passed in this manner, during which Franval continued to write both to his 
wife and daughter, and from whom he received letters that could not help but please him, 
since he saw in those from his wife naught but the most perfect acquiescence to his every 
desire, and in those from his daughter an unwavering determination to carry out the 
projected crime as soon as the turn of events required it, or whenever Madame de Franval 
seemed on the verge of complying with her mother's solicitations. 

For, as Eugenie noted in one of her letters, "If I see in your wife naught but the qualities of 
honesty and candor, and if the friends working on your case in Paris succeed in bringing it to 
a happy conclusion, I shall turn over to you the task you have entrusted me and you can 
accomplish it yourself when we are together, if you deem it advisable then. But of course if 
you should in any case order me to act, and should find it indispensable that I do so, then I 
shall assume the full responsibility for it by myself, of that you may be sure." 

In his reply, Franval approved of everything she reported to him, and these were the last 
two letters he received and sent. The following mail brought him no more. Franval grew 
worried. And when the succeeding mail proved equally unsatisfactory, he grew desperate, and 
since his natural restlessness no longer allowed him to wait for further mails, he immediately 
decided to pay a personal visit to Valmor to ascertain the reasons for the delays in the mails 
that were upsetting him so cruelly. 

He set off on horseback, followed by a faithful valet. He had calculated his voyage to arrive 
the second day, late enough at night not to be recognized by anyone. At the edge of the woods 
which surrounds the Valmor chateau and which, to the east, joins the Black Forest, six well- 

armed men stopped Franval and his servant and demanded their money. These rogues had 
been well informed; they knew with whom they were dealing and were fully aware that 
Franval, being implicated in an unpleasant affair, never traveled without his paper money and 

immense amounts of gold The servant resisted, and was laid out lifeless at the feet of his 

horse. Franval, drawing his sword, leapt to the ground and attacked these scurvy creatures. 
He wounded three of them, but found himself surrounded by the others. They stripped him 
of everything he had, without however being able to disarm him, and as soon as they had 
despoiled him the thieves escaped. Franval followed them, but the brigands had vanished so 
swiftly with their booty and horses that it was impossible to tell in which direction they had 

The weather that night was miserable. The cutting blast of the north wind was 
accompanied by a driving hail— all the elements seemed to be conspiring against this poor 
wretch. There are perhaps cases in which Nature, revolted by the crimes of the person she is 
pursuing, desires to overwhelm him with all the scourges at Her command before drawing 

him back again into her bosom Franval, half-naked but still holding onto his sword, 

directed his footsteps as best he could away from this baleful place, and toward Valmor. But 
as he was ill-acquainted with this estate, which he had visited only the one time we have seen 
him there, he lost his way on the darkened roads of this forest with which he was totally 
unfamiliar. . . . Completely exhausted, and racked by pain and worry, tormented by the storm, 
he threw himself to the ground; and there the first tears he had ever shed in his life flowed 
abundantly from his eyes. . . . 

"Ill-fated man," he cried out, "now is everything conspiring to crush me at last ... to make 
me feel the pangs of remorse. It took the hand of disaster to pierce my heart. Deceived by the 
blandishments of good fortune, I should have always gone on failing to recognize it. Oh you, 
whom I have outraged so grievously, you who at this very moment are perhaps becoming the 
victim of my fury and barbarous plans, you my adorable wife . . . does the world, vainglorious 
of your existence, still possess you? Has the hand of Heaven put a stop to my horrors? . . . 
Eugenie! my too credulous daughter . . . too basely seduced by my abominable cunning . . . 
has Nature softened your heart? . . . Has she suspended the cruel effects of my ascendancy 
and your weakness? Is there still time? Is there still time, Just Heaven? . . ." 

Suddenly the plaintive and majestic sound of several pealing bells, rising sadly 

heavenward, came to add to the horror of his fate He was deeply affected ... he grew 

terrified. . . . 

"What is this I hear?" he cried out, getting to his feet. "Barbarous daughter ... is it death? . 
. . is it vengeance? . . . Are the Furies of hell come then to finish their work? Do these sounds 
announce to me . . .? Where am I? Can I hear them? . . . Finish, oh Heaven, finish the task of 
destroying the culprit " 

And, prostrating himself: 

"Almighty God, suffer me to join my voice to those who at this moment are imploring Thee 
. . . see my remorse and Thy power, and pardon me for disowning Thee. I beseech Thee to 
grant me this prayer, the first prayer I dare to direct at Thee! Supreme Being, preserve virtue, 
protect her who was Thy most beautiful image on this earth. I pray that these sounds, these 
mournful sounds, may not be those I fear and dread." 

And Franval, completely distraught, no longer aware of what he was doing nor where he 
was going, his speech but an incoherent mumble, followed whatever path he chanced across. . 

. . He heard someone ... he regained control of himself and listened It was a man on 


"Whoever you are," Franval called out, advancing toward this man, "whoever you may be, 
take pity on a poor wretch whom pain and sorrow has rendered distraught. I am ready to take 

my own life Instruct me, help me, if you are a man, and a man of any compassion . . . 

deign to save me from myself." 

"Good God!" replied a voice too well-known to poor Franval. "What! You here? . . . For the 
sake of all that is holy, leave, go away!" 

And Clervil— for 'twas he, this worthy mortal, who had escaped from Franval's prison, 
whom fate had sent toward this miserable creature in the saddest moment of his life— Clervil 
jumped down off his horse and fell into the arms of his enemy. 

"So 'tis you, Monsieur," Franval said, clasping the honorable man to his breast, "you upon 
whom I have wrought so many horrible acts which weigh so heavily on my conscience?" 

"Calm yourself, Monsieur, you must calm yourself. I put away from me all the misfortunes 
that have recently surrounded me, nor do I remember those which you wished to inflict upon 
me when Heaven allows me to serve you . . . and I am going to be of service to you, Monsieur, 

doubtless in a manner which will be rather cruel, but necessary Here, let us sit down at 

the foot of this cypress, for now its sinister boughs alone shall be a fitting wreath for you. Oh, 
my dear Franval, what reverses of fortune I must acquaint you with! . . . Weep, my friend, for 

tears will relieve you, and I must cause even more bitter tears to flow from your eyes 

Your days of delight are over . . . they have vanished as a dream. And all you have left to you 
are days of sorrow and grief." 

"Oh, Monsieur, I understand you . . . those bells . . ." 

"Those bells are bearing the homage, the prayers of the inhabitants of Valmor to the feet of 
Almighty God, for He has allowed them to know an angel only so that they might pity and 
mourn her all the more." 

At which point Franval, placing the tip of his sword at his heart, was about to cut the frail 
thread of his days, but Clervil forestalled this desperate act: 

"No, no, my friend," he cried, "'tis not death that is needed, but reparation. Hear what I 
have to say, I have much to tell you, and to tell it, an atmosphere of calm is required." 

"Very well, Monsieur, speak. I am listening. Plunge the dagger by slow degrees into my 
heart. It is only just that he who has tried to torment others should in his turn be oppressed." 

"I shall be brief as regards myself, Monsieur," Clervil said. "After several months of the 
frightful detention to which you subjected me, I was fortunate enough to move my guard to 
pity. I strongly advised him meticulously to conceal the injustice which you committed 
regarding me. He will not reveal it, my dear Franval, he will never reveal that secret." 

"Oh, Monsieur . . ." 

"Hear me out. I repeat that I have much to tell you. Upon my return to Paris I learned of 
your sorry adventure . . . your departure. ... I shared Madame de Farneille's tears, which 
were more sincere than you ever believed. Together with this worthy lady, I conspired to 
persuade Madame de Franval to bring Eugenie back to us, her presence being more necessary 

in Paris than in Alsace You had forbidden her to leave Valmor . . . she obeyed you. She 

apprised us of these orders and of her reluctance to contradict them. She hesitated as long as 
she could. You were found guilty, Franval, and the sentence still stands. You have been 
sentenced to death as guilty of a highway murder. Neither Madame de Farneille's entreaties 
nor the efforts of your family and friends could alter the decision of justice: you have been 
worsted . . . dishonored forever . . . you are ruined ... all your goods and estates have been 

seized " (And in response to a second, violent movement on Franval's part:) "Listen to me, 

Monsieur, hear me out, I say, I demand this of you in expiation of your crimes; I demand it 

too in the name of Heaven, which may still be moved to forgiveness by your repentance. At 
this time we wrote to Madame de Franval to apprise her of all this: her mother informed her 
that, as her presence had become absolutely indispensable, she was sending me to Valmor to 
persuade her once and for all to return to Paris. I set off immediately after the letter was 
posted, but unfortunately it reached Valmor before me. When I arrived, it was already too 

late; your horrible plot had succeeded only too well; I found Madame de Franval dying 

Oh, Monsieur, what base, what foul villainy! . . . But I am touched by your abject state, I shall 
refrain from reproaching you any further for your crimes. Let me tell you everything. Eugenie 
was unable to bear the sight, and when I arrived her repentance was already expressed by a 

flood of tears and bitter sobs Oh, Monsieur, how can I describe to you the cruel effect of 

this varied scene. Your wife, disfigured by convulsions of pain, was dying. . . . Eugenie, having 
been reclaimed by Nature, was uttering frightful cries, confessing her guilt, invoking death, 
wanting to kill herself, in turn falling at the feet of those whom she was imploring and 
fastening herself to the breast of her mother, trying desperately to revive her with her own 
breath, to warm her with her tears, to move her by the spectacle of her remorse; such, 
Monsieur, was the sinister scene that struck my eyes when I arrived at Valmor. 

"When I entered the house, Madame de Franval recognized me. She pressed my hands in 
hers, wet them with her tears, and uttered a few words which I had great difficulty hearing, 
for they could scarcely escape from her chest which was constricted from the effects of the 

poison. She forgave you She implored Heaven's forgiveness for you, and above all she 

asked for her daughter's forgiveness. . . . See then, barbarous man, that the final thoughts, the 
final prayers of this woman whose heart you broke and whose virtue you vilified were yet for 
your happiness. 

"I gave her every care I could, and revived the flagging spirits of the servants to do the 
same, I called upon the most celebrated practitioners of medicine available . . . and I 
employed all my resources to console your Eugenie. Touched by the terrible state she was in, 
I felt I had no right to refuse her my consolations. But nothing succeeded. Your poor wife 
gave up the ghost amid such convulsions and torments as are impossible to describe. At that 
fatal moment, Monsieur, I witnessed one of the sudden effects of remorse which till then had 
been unknown to me. Eugenie threw herself on her mother and died at the same moment as 
she. We all thought she had merely fainted. . . . No, all her faculties were extinguished. The 
situation had produced such a shock to her vital organs that they had all ceased 
simultaneously to function, and she actually died from the violent impact of remorse, grief, 

and despair Yes, Monsieur, both are lost to you. And the bells which you yet hear pealing 

are celebrating simultaneously two creatures, both of whom were born to make you happy, 
whom your hideous crimes have made the victims of their attachment to you, and whose 
bloody images will pursue you to your grave. 

"Oh, my dear Franval, was I wrong then in times past to try and save you from the abyss 
into which your passions were plunging you? Will you still condemn, still cover with ridicule 
the votaries of virtue? And are virtue's disciples wrong to burn incense at its altars when they 
see crime so surrounded by troubles and scourges?" 

Clervil fell silent. He glanced at Franval and saw that he was petrified with sorrow. His 
eyes were fixed and from them tears were flowing, but no expression managed to cross his 
lips. Clervil asked him why he had found him in this half-naked state. In two words, Franval 
related to him what had happened. 

"Ah, Monsieur," cried the generous Clervil, "how happy I am, even in the midst of all the 
horrors which surround me, to be able at least to ease your situation. I was on my way to 

Basel in search of you, I was going to acquaint you with all that had happened, I was going to 

offer you the little I possess Take it, I beg you to. As you know, I am not rich, but here are 

a hundred louis, my life's savings, they are all I own. I demand that you . . ." 

"Oh noble and generous man," Franval cried, embracing the knees of that rare and 
honorable friend, "why me? Do I need anything, after the losses I have suffered? And from 
you, you whom I have treated so miserably, 'tis you who fly to my help." 

"Must we remember past wrongs when misfortune overwhelms him who has done them to 
us? When this happens, the only revenge we owe is to alleviate his suffering. And what point 
is there in adding to his grief when his heart is burdened with his own reproaches? . . . 
Monsieur, that is the voice of Nature. You can see that the sacred cult of a Supreme Being 
does not run counter to it as you had supposed, since the counsel offered by the one is naught 
but the holy writ of the other." 

"No," said Franval, getting to his feet, "no, Monsieur, I no longer have need for anything at 
all. Since Heaven has left me this one last possession," he went on, displaying his sword, 

"teach me what use I must put it to " (Looking at the sword :) "This, my dear, my only 

friend, this is the same sword that my saintly wife seized one day to plunge into her breast 
when I was overwhelming her with horrors and calumnies. . . . 'Tis the very same. . . . Perhaps 

I may even discover traces of her sacred blood on it . . . blood which my own must efface 

Come, let us walk awhile, until we come to some cottages wherein I may inform you of my 
last wishes . . . and then we shall take leave of each other forever " 

They began walking, keeping a look out for a road that would lead them to some 

habitation Night still enveloped the forest in its darkest veils. Suddenly the sound of 

mournful hymns was heard, and the men saw several torches rending the dark shadows and 
lending the scene a tinge of horror that only sensitive souls will understand. The pealing of 
bells grew louder, and to these mournful accents, which were still only scarcely audible, were 
joined flashes of lightning, which had hitherto been absent from the sky, and the ensuing 
thunder which mingled with the funereal sounds they had previously heard. The lightning 
which flashed across the skies, occasionally eclipsing the sinister flames of the torches, 
seemed to be vying with the inhabitants of the earth for the right to conduct to her grave this 
woman whom the procession was accompanying. Everything gave rise to horror, everything 
betokened desolation, and it seemed that Nature herself had donned the garb of eternal 

"What is this?" said Franval, who was deeply moved. 

"Nothing, nothing," Clervil said, taking his friend's hand and leading him in another 

"Nothing? No, you're misleading me. I want to see what it is " 

He dashed forward . . . and saw a coffin. 

"Merciful Heaven," he cried. "There she is; it is she, it is she. God has given me one last 
occasion to see her " 

At the bidding of Clervil, who saw that it was impossible to calm the poor man down, the 

priests departed in silence Completely distraught, Franval threw himself on the coffin, 

and from it he seized the sad remains of the woman whom he had so gravely offended. He 
took the body in his arms and laid it at the foot of a tree, and in a state of delirium threw 
himself upon it, crying in utter despair: 

"Oh you whose life has been snuffed out by my barbarous cruelty, oh touching creature 
whom I still adore, see at your feet your husband beseeching your pardon and your 
forgiveness. Do not imagine that I ask this in order to outlive you. No, no, 'tis in order that 

the Almighty, touched by your virtues, might deign to forgive me as you have done, if such be 

possible You must have blood, my sweet wife, you must have blood to be avenged . . . and 

avenged you shall be Ah! first see my tears and witness my repentance; I intend to follow 

you, beloved shade . . . but who will receive my tortured soul if you do not intercede for it? 
Rejected alike from the arms of God and from your heart, do you wish to see it condemned to 
the hideous tortures of Hell when it is so sincerely repentant of its crimes? Forgive, dear soul, 
forgive these crimes, and see how I avenge them." 

With these words Franval, eluding Clervil's gaze, plunged the sword he was holding twice 
through his body. His impure blood flowed onto his victim and seemed to sully her much 
more than avenge her. 

"Oh my friend," he said to Clervil, "I am dying, but I am dying in the bosom of remorse. . . . 
Apprise those who remain behind both of my deplorable end and of my crimes, tell them that 
is the way that a man who is a miserable slave of his passions must die, a man vile enough to 
have stifled in his heart the cry of duty and of Nature. Do not deny me half of my wretched 
wife's coffin; without my remorse I would not have been worthy of sharing it, but now my 
remorse renders me full worthy of that favor, and I demand it. Adieu." 

Clervil granted poor Franval's dying wish, and the procession continued on its way. An 
eternal refuge soon swallowed up a husband and wife born to love each other, a couple 
fashioned for happiness and who would have savored it in its purest form if crime and its 
frightful disorders had not, beneath the guilty hand of one of the two, intervened to change 
their life from a garden of delight into a viper's nest. 

The worthy ecclesiastic soon carried back to Paris the frightful details of these different 
calamities. No one was distressed by the death of Franval; only his life had been a cause of 
grief. But his wife was mourned, bitterly mourned. And indeed what creature is more 
precious, more appealing in the eyes of men than the person who has cherished, respected, 
and cultivated the virtues of the earth and, at each step of the way, has found naught but 
misfortune and grief? 

Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised (1791) 

The most famous of all Sade's works is the novel Justine. It is also probably the one he cared 
most about— Sade dedicated it to the faithful companion of the last twenty-five years of his 
existence, Marie-Constance Quesnet. It was also the book which caused him the most 
difficulty with the